How should communicators talk about opioid treatment?

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price recently fueled the debate surrounding opioid treatment. Some believe his message hurts recovery efforts; HHS policy holds steady.

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Addiction researchers are speaking out against remarks made by HHS Secretary Tom Price concerning America’s opiate addiction crisis.

At the focus is the messaging war over medically assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction. MAT is known for its use of methadone and other opiates that can be used to wean an addict from heroin use or prescription pill abuse while minimizing withdrawal symptoms.

Some, including the HHS secretary, see MAT as a meaningless trade, substituting one drug for another.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported:

Asked about drug treatment options, Price touted faith-based programs while showing less support for medication-assisted programs in which addicts are weaned off heroin with other opioids like Suboxone and methadone.

“If we’re just substituting one opioid for another, we’re not moving the dial much,” he said. “Folks need to be cured so they can be productive members of society and realize their dreams.”

In response, more than 700 researchers and academics wrote an open letter to Price to “set the record straight” on the issue.

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