Governor Deval Patrick has appropriately declared the opioid addiction epidemic as a public health emergency. The governor’s directives will save lives and help to put some brakes on this run away scourge to society. But questions remain and more issues need to be addressed.
For example, why is medication management for the treatment of heroin/opioid addiction scorned by so many? In a recent Boston Globe article, Hillary Jacobs, director of Substance Abuse Services for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, acknowledged that “medications are not used as much as they could be for opiate addictions because of stigmas attached to them.’’ We watch endless commercials about how to treat illnesses such as urinary incontinence or erectile dysfunction but public service announcements addressing the heroin/opioid epidemic and the proven benefits of outpatient cost effective medication management have been relatively sparse. The governor’s directives, which include public health advisories to educate the public about opioid addiction treatment options, will hopefully demystify common misperceptions, such as crime increases when there is a treatment center in one’s community. In fact, there is a 50-80 percent reduction in crime by heroin addicts when in treatment.