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The Role of Harm Reduction in The Addiction Recovery Process

Have you heard about harm reduction strategies? If not, we are going to look at this topic in-depth and educate you about it and how it pertains to addiction treatment. Harm reduction is an established set of ideas and interventions which seek to reduce the negative consequences of drug abuse. It is a public health strategy developed initially for adults with substance abuse problems, specifically for people who weren’t able to engage in abstinence.

What Does Harm Reduction Involve Concerning Addiction?

Harm reduction incorporates a spectrum of different strategies from safer use, to managing abstinence, to meet drug abusers where they are in life and to address the use along with the drug itself. In recent years, harm reduction has been successfully used for sex education in an effort to reduce both teen pregnancy rates and sexually transmitted infections. When the principles of harm reduction are applied to drug use, it is accepted that a continual level of drug abuse in society is unavoidable and it defines clear aims at reducing negative results.

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What Principles are Central to the Practice of Harm Reduction?

Because harm reduction principles demand interventions and guidelines designed to serve drug users specific personal needs and public needs, there’s no commonly accepted definition for implementing the practices. The following principles are what the Harm Reduction Coalition considers key to harm reduction practices:

  • Accepts that illegal drug use is a part of our world and chooses to work to diminish its harmful effects rather than simply overlook them.
  • Do not try to ignore or minimize the real and harmful effects associated with illicit drug use.
  • Understanding drug use is a complicated, multi-faceted problem which encompasses a range of behaviors from severe abuse to total abstinence.
  • Establishes a quality of personal and societal life and well-being. Not necessarily ceasing all drug use as criteria for successful intercessions and strategies.
  • Ensures drug users themselves are the main agents of reducing the harms of their drug abuse seeks to empower users through education and supporting each other.
  • Seeks to establish drug users and those with a history of drug abuse have a “voice” in the creation of programs and strategies to serve them.
  • Calls for the nonjudgmental provision of services and resources to people who use drugs and the communities they live in, in order to assist them in reducing harm.
  • Recognizing that poverty, class, racism, social isolation, past traumas, and social inequalities affect a person’s vulnerability to effectively handle drug-related harm.

What are the Key Harm Reduction Issues?

The Drug Policy Alliance has highlighted the key issues associated with harm reduction strategies and these include:

  • Discrimination against drug users: In order for harm reduction strategies to become effective it’s necessary to end discrimination against drug users. Stigma against drug abusers extends to both recreational and problematic drug use and it requires advocating for compassion and judgement-free approaches to addiction.
  • Drug overdose: For people under 50, accidental drug overdose is the leading cause of death in America. Harm reduction proposes promoting sensible ideas and better policies at state and federal levels to reduce these deaths.
  • Naloxone: This drug is an inexpensive, FDA-approved medication which reverses the effects of an opiate overdose and it has no abuse potential. More people need to have access to the drug to save lives in the event of an overdose situation.
  • Good Samaritan laws: People using illegal opiates could be worried about arrest if they call emergency services when witnessing an overdose. The best way to encourage the saving of lives is to provide immunity from drug violation laws through promoting Good Samaritan laws.
  • Syringe access: Programs that offer sterile syringes to drug abusers can help lower the chances of someone contracting HIV or hepatitis C. Having wider access to sterile syringes could be beneficial by ending policies which criminalize syringe possession and limit sterile syringe distribution.

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How Does Harm Reduction Reduce Prison Time for Drug Abusers?

While it’s impossible to totally ignore drug abusers and to allow the behavior to continue, there’s evidence suggesting addiction harms society, as well as the user. Putting a drug abuser in prison means spending public funding on housing, meals and healthcare. Leaving an addict to continue using drugs in place without treatment resources means dealing with other issues such as:

  • Increase in crime rates
  • Public health problems
  • Increased need for long-term foster care for the children of parent’s with addiction
  • Decreased property values in drug-impacted areas

Harm reduction principles require community support in order to make a drug user safe and to lessen the harmful effects of addiction on its residents.

What are Some Harm Reduction Medications?

There are particular drugs which are considered ideal for use in harm reduction methodologies concerning addiction treatment. Buprenorphine works on the opiate receptors in the brain, the same ones which are activated during heroin use, but it also has a ceiling effect. There are drugs used with medication-assisted treatment such as Suboxone, Subutex, Vivitrol, buprenorphine and naloxone which reduce cravings and withdrawal but not designed for long-term abuse.

Medications containing buprenorphine have been established as effective in helping addicted people stay motivated to become clean. Harm reduction medications are prescribed by specially licensed health care providers and in some cases, people can avoid long-term treatment and be cared for in a doctor’s office.

Naloxone when delivered via shot or nasal spray can block the effects of an opiate overdose. The medication is usually given by an emergency responder such as a paramedic, EMT or police officer. Making naloxone widely available could allow drug users to treat each other in the event of an accidental overdose and it may result in thousands of lives saved.

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A Changing Future for Harm Reduction Principles:

The passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may help change societal views about addiction because as part of the law, addiction treatment is considered “essential services.” Four of the medications used for medication-assisted treatment are included as part of the ACA services for addiction medicine services.

In the meantime, supporters of harm reduction principles could keep pushing for people who have addiction issues to get help for the problem. Our admissions personnel are available to answer questions, provide resources and to show someone how accepting treatment could help them experience the benefits of a sober life.






Telemedicine: How It’s Changing the Face of Addiction Treatment

Have you heard of telemedicine? If not, please read on to find out more information about it and how it’s changing the face of drug addiction treatment. Telemedicine allows a healthcare professional to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients at a distance from clinics via computer technology. The telemedicine approach has been particularly revolutionary in the past decade and it is becoming increasingly popular with healthcare providers today.

Is Telemedicine the Same as Telehealth?

Although the terms may be used interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between the two. The term “telehealth” includes a broad array of technologies and services to provide patient care and improve healthcare delivery. Telehealth is different from telemedicine because it refers to a broader scope of healthcare services. Telemedicine refers specifically to remote clinical services, involving the use of electronic communications and software to provide client services to a patient without an in-person clinic visit.

What are the Benefits of Telemedicine?

Using telemedicine provides remarkable benefits to patients and is currently being used to change the face of drug addiction treatment. Telemedicine benefits include the following; less time away from work, no travel time or expense, patient privacy, less interference with child care or elder care responsibilities and no exposure to other people who may spread a contagious illness.

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What are the Benefits of Telemedicine for a Provider?

There are many benefits telemedicine can provide for doctors and nurse practitioners. The benefits of electing telemedicine patient visits include; increased revenue, improved office efficiency, staying competitive with other providers, fewer missed appointments and cancellations, better patient follow through and improved treatment outcomes, and private payer reimbursement.

How Does Telemedicine Offer Better Access to Drug Treatment Providers?

Getting help for a drug problem comes in many forms, but it can be hard to access for people who live in rural communities. Those who have enrolled in treatment programs of the past were required to show up in person for assistance. In order to remove barriers to traditional treatment, telemedicine offers new options and easier access for those who need mental health services and addiction treatment.

What’s it Like to Seek Treatment Through Telemedicine?

Telemedicine providers use HIPAA-compliant technologies, which includes telephone services, applications for smartphones, video conferencing, and web-based tools. The most convenient benefit of using telemedicine services is the ability to receive help without having to drive a great distance to get it. The most common technology used for telemedicine services is video conferencing with a secure online server, which provides privacy and patient information is protected.

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What are Healthcare Providers Saying About Telemedicine Services?

On September 14, 2018, www.whyy.org published an article regarding a proposed House bill that would require insurers to pay for telemedicine services and it is drawing widespread support from healthcare providers and opposition from some insurance providers. The idea of telemedicine isn’t exactly new, but if the proposed bill passes through the House, it’s about to become a lot more commonplace.

Senate Bill 780 aims to “authorize health care providers to use telemedicine and require insurers to provide coverage and reimbursement for its use,” according to the bill’s summary. It has already passed the Senate and will go up for the vote in the House of Representatives in the near future.

Dr. Judd Hollander, a physician who is a senior executive at Thomas Jefferson University says some insurers are already covering certain types of teleservices. By establishing regulations and reimbursement protocols, it will move telemedicine into the mainstream and make healthcare access easier for everyone.

Hollander stated, “One day, much like banking is just banking, no longer telebanking, telemedicine will just be medicine because it’s just about taking care of patients. It’s not actually about the technology.”

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Why Should Drug Treatment Be Provided Through Telemedicine Services?

There are many reasons why getting treatment for drug addiction through telemedicine is beneficial, it’s convenient and removes barriers to care. Other reasons for telemedicine being ideal for drug treatment includes removing the stigma associated with seeking help, lack of access to providers in remote areas, and the costs of traveling to a provider’s actual location.

Not only do people have a hard time trying to arrange child care and taking time off work, sometimes transportation and other responsibilities are hard to juggle. It’s easy to ignore the need for treatment in the face of what may seem to be insurmountable obstacles, but with telemedicine, these issues can be addressed and removed.

How Can Telemedicine Make Addiction Treatment Better?

In addition to improving and creating easier access to providers, telemedicine provides a more holistic approach to treatment. One of the services provided by telemedicine includes cognitive behavioral intervention developed to address trauma and substance use disorders concomitantly. Telemedicine offers an advantage in its capacity to not only respond to addiction and its related behaviors, but it also addresses trauma and could uncover mental health conditions which drive addiction.

Another advantage of telemedicine for addiction treatment is linking resources with providers in the community. Small clinics and individual providers could gain access to expertise and secure technologies, both could partner up to meet the needs of the local community, no matter what the location may be.

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How Can You Convince an Addicted Person to Try Telemedicine?

If you or someone you know needs help for drug addiction, just suggesting telemedicine could make all the difference in the world. Just knowing there is no need to travel hundreds of miles, no need to contact a child care provider, no reason to call off work and no visit to a clinic to get help could be enough to convince someone to be open to treatment.

When someone has been considering treatment and is resistant because of barriers, just knowing telemedicine could be helpful is often enough to change their mindset. Telemedicine is changing the face of medical treatment and this includes addiction medicine. Don’t let anything stop you from getting help because, in the end, it’s the best choice you can ever make.





What are The Tools Clinicians Use for Medication-Assisted Treatment?

It doesn’t matter if someone is rich or poor, old or young, opiate addiction takes anyone as a victim, without discrimination. Families who love an addict will expect modern medicine to relieve the issue, but it can’t. Opiates are normally the first choice for physicians treating a patient with pain, but sadly it is how many addictions take root and become deadly with time. Medication-assisted treatment programs are seeing tremendous success and easing the minds of many parents who see their children excelling.

What is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?

People addicted to opiates deal with significant life struggles and go through so much suffering, while many think becoming clean is impossible. With MAT treatment, within several months, a person can completely change their entire life and the turnaround is remarkable. Medication-assisted treatment is an evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorder and it is highly effective, safe and beneficial for people who may have tried other options to get clean but failed.

Can MAT Be Used Alone?

MAT gets someone free from opiates and normalizes the function of the brain, it is the first step on the path of recovery. After becoming clean, a person under the care of a suboxone doctor will need to do check-ins, focus on relapse prevention and management of stress. Sometimes someone isn’t ready to go through counseling but wants to get clean, many suboxone doctors will work with the person if they agree to attend sessions at a later date.

Our MAT Program Is Available:

If someone has been struggling with opiate dependence and makes the choice to become clean, it can be done with MAT. Because we are familiar with overdose death rates and see the firsthand destruction caused by opiate dependence, we are committed to helping those in need. Please call our suboxone rehab now, open your eyes to how good life can be without drugs and make the decision to use Medication-assisted treatment services to achieve sobriety once and for all.

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