Rapid Changes to Opioid Treatment Driven by COVID-19

Last week a STAT News article titled “Covid-19 will worsen the opioid overdose crisis if we don’t prepare now,” stated that, “Missing from the national discussion on the coronavirus has been another vulnerable group: patients with opioid use disorder. Despite ongoing public health efforts, the opioid overdose crisis does not appear to be slowing down. The emergency of Covid-19 could worsen it if we do not preemptively develop and implement response plans now.”

As we know all too well, social isolation is a key measure for preventing infection and curbing the spread of the virus. Many patients taking medications to treat their opioid use disorder — methadone or buprenorphine — aren’t able to stay home. Government regulations limit how these medications are prescribed and dispensed, often requiring inpatient treatment.

Here to talk about what’s being done for those in SUD treatment is Dr. Rick Massatti, the State Opioid Treatment Authority at the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS). Dr. Massatti currently oversees the federally licensed opioid treatment programs (OTPs) and has over sixteen years of experience working on substance use and mental health research policies and programs.

As our state and nation pivot to address this crisis and vulnerable population, Dr. Massatti brings his expert understanding to this week’s podcast. Together, we shed light on the COVID-19 and the opioid treatment guidance policies, changing rapidly across the country.

Join us on this week’s podcast for eye-opening insights into COVID-19’s impact on the opioid epidemic and the rapid response policy changes saving lives as the coronavirus pandemic evolves.

Dr. Rick Massatti