Video campaign aims to increase treatment retention for opioid use disorder
Opioid use disorder is killing Americans. But recovery is possible! No matter who we are or where we come from, we all know at least one person affected by opioid use disorder (OUD). An estimated 2.1 million Americans have OUD. More than one third of the 180 overdoses reported in Cayuga County the first seven months of this year are suspected to have involved opioids. We have lost 10 lives already in 2021, most likely to an overdose involving opioids. What many don’t realize is that OUD is a medical disorder characterized by an inability to stop the use of an addictive substance, despite the negative consequences associated with its use.
Cayuga County’s HEALing Communities team is committed to reducing opioid overdose deaths. Many families are broken and lives are disrupted due to misuse of opioids. Research findings are clear: Medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) are the single most effective tool to promote long-term recovery. Staying in medication treatment reduces opioid-related overdose deaths.
Recovery from opioid use disorder requires more than willpower, and medications can be part of the solution.
Three FDA-approved medications – methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone – can lower the risk of relapse and overdose. MOUD treatment can be combined with psychotherapy, support groups, or other treatment opportunities where available. To reduce overdose deaths and the many other destructive effects of opioid use disorder on our community, we must increase the number of people who seek MOUD treatment and who stay in treatment long enough to recover. The longer a person with OUD stays in medication treatment, the greater the chance of a successful recovery. However, challenges associated with availability and acceptance of medication treatment exist.
To address these challenges, the HEALing Communities Study is launching a campaign focused on Staying in Medication Treatment. This unique video-based campaign aims to help people with OUD and needed supporters (e.g. loved ones, treatment providers):
- Understand how important medication treatment can be for recovery from opioid use disorder
- Learn how to overcome commonly experienced barriers to treatment retention
- Improve support for those in medication treatment
Throughout the campaign, real people share their compelling stories about how they have overcome challenges to staying in medication treatment. Treatment challenges addressed throughout the campaign include managing anxiety and depression, coping with cravings and triggers, finding recovery support that accepts medication treatment, and asking for support from loved ones.
A HEALing Communities Study spokesperson, Johnny, has been taking MOUD for over 5 years as part of his recovery path. During an interview, he provided other people struggling with OUD with some great tips. “At the beginning there were many people who didn’t believe in MOUD.” He noted there were many people in his life who believed MOUD was just substituting one drug for another, but it’s not. He says, “Don’t give up. MOUD works. If it doesn’t work for you the first time, try again. Be honest to yourself and your counselors and the people trying to help you. And be honest and say the truth, because you are feeling it. It is your treatment and your recovery. Stay in treatment, your life is worth it!”
You can help HEAL our community
How can you help? If you know someone with opioid use disorder, encourage them to seek medications for opioid use disorder. If you know someone who is in MOUD treatment, let them know you support their efforts and recognize the courage it takes to break the cycle of drug dependence. If someone you know has a family member in MOUD treatment, tell them how glad you are to hear it and how you hope their family member stays in that treatment as long as they need it.
Your encouragement matters because one of the reasons that some people leave MOUD treatment too soon, or never enter it at all, is lack of support from family and friends. The notion that MOUD “isn’t real recovery” has prevented too many people from using MOUD to succeed in recovery and there are challenges people in recovery face. Some challenges may include separating from previous drug-using social networks and managing anxiety and depression, withdrawal, and potential occasional relapse events. For a person with opioid use disorder, chances of recovery become much greater when MOUD treatment efforts are supported by friends, family, and the connections within their social networks, and transportation, housing, and employment are accessible in the community. Together, we can HEAL our community.