Note from the Co-Director
Looking back in history, it is easy to spot moments that led to significant change (good and bad). We are now living through one of these moments: A global health pandemic requiring social distancing when millions are protesting the social and economic injustice our fellow Black Americans continue to suffer, an unstable economy with job losses at the levels of the Great Depression, and tremendous uncertainty about the future.
All of this is happening while deaths from opioid overdoses continue to rise as do indicators of ongoing opioid misuse. Access to treatment has been strengthened by new payment allowances for telehealth and reduced regulations on buprenorphine prescribing; at the same time, access is diminished as millions have lost employment-based insurance. Our communal wellbeing is threatened by feelings of isolation, anxiety, and despair.
Now is the time for communities to draw on the addiction and surveillance resources they started building before the pandemic to quickly identify populations and neighborhoods in particular need and target outreach and addiction resources to them. Individuals suffering from opioid addiction are likely to be at greatest risk of COVID-19 due to unstable housing and unstable health care, among other factors.
In this newsletter, we include materials that may be particularly helpful to communities during these challenging times. Now is the time to draw on what we already know from research and act fast to help those at greatest risk.
Stay safe, stay healthy, and care for your communities. – Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, Co-Director OPTIC