Opioid Epidemic: Tackling Community Decay and Loneliness with Sarmed Rashid

Sarmed Rashid, former Opioid Epidemic Manager at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, speaks about the opioid epidemic. From mental health to the impact of Covid-19, Sarmed provides a comprehensive breakdown of some of the causes of the epidemic as well as potential solutions.

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Morten Seja
Economic Growth Adviser
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We've seen that the COVID-19 epidemic or pandemic has especially affected them some of the most vulnerable populations. So homeless populations and criminal justice populations, especially. And these are also populations that are more predisposed to deal with substance abuse issues. The COVID-19 pandemic has just exacerbated a lot of the underlying conditions of the opioid epidemic. http://www.solvecast.com/articles/detail/15292-opioid-epidemic-tackling-community-decay-and-loneliness-with-sarmed-rashid

Just as workplaces have shifted to a more virtual a more virtual set up, what we've seen is like tele-health taking off in ways that it hadn't before. The government has relaxed a lot of laws that prevent prescript prescribers from fully using telehealth to, for example, prescribing medicine. So like actions like that have helped increased access to treatment for a lot of folks. Same thing with virtual recovery support services. So what we've seen right now is a lot, is that a lot of these virtual recovery groups have turned to zoom and Skype to help hold some of the sessions. And it may not be as effective as in-person, it's still significantly better than not having anything at all. http://www.solvecast.com/articles/detail/15292-opioid-epidemic-tackling-community-decay-and-loneliness-with-sarmed-rashid

A lot of people talk about Naloxone, which is this kind of miracle drug that can revive someone who's having an opioid addiction. But you don't necessarily need to have this drug in order to save a life. Someone who has overdosed can be revived with chest compressions and rescue breaths. And I just generally encourage everyone to get CPR training. http://www.solvecast.com/articles/detail/15292-opioid-epidemic-tackling-community-decay-and-loneliness-with-sarmed-rashid

Understanding the role that stigma can play... personal stigma, institutional stigma in preventing people from getting treatment and then maintaining their recovery. I think being knowledgeable about the kind of larger context that gave rise to addiction can help undermine the belief that some people might have that this is a personal failing and also being aware of our language. There's been a significant amount of research that using certain words over others may make it more difficult for policymakers to pass legislation that deals with this or makes it more difficult for doctors and other healthcare providers to treat those with addiction. http://www.solvecast.com/articles/detail/15292-opioid-epidemic-tackling-community-decay-and-loneliness-with-sarmed-rashid

I volunteer as an EMT in out in Virginia and, Anytime that we get a call to deal with someone who might be experiencing COVID symptoms, that puts us out of service for someone who could be experiencing an overdose. So it's a question of resource allocation. http://www.solvecast.com/articles/detail/15292-opioid-epidemic-tackling-community-decay-and-loneliness-with-sarmed-rashid

We've also seen a lot of research that talks about the effects of joblessness on deaths of despair which includes overdoses, suicides and alcohol misuse. In short, places that experienced high level of joblessness are also places that experience high levels of deaths of despair. http://www.solvecast.com/articles/detail/15292-opioid-epidemic-tackling-community-decay-and-loneliness-with-sarmed-rashid

A lot of people have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. And, in this country, a lot of people get their health insurance through their jobs. So all of a sudden they don't have access to lifesaving treatment, mental health treatment or access to different recovery support services that are necessary to help sustain long-term recovery. http://www.solvecast.com/articles/detail/15292-opioid-epidemic-tackling-community-decay-and-loneliness-with-sarmed-rashid

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