The opioid epidemic gives addiction treatment providers an opportunity to demonstrate what they can do to stem the tide. CleanSlate operates treatment centers in multiple states, employing a medication assisted approach. In this podcast interview, CEO Greg Marotta describes what he’s seeing and how the company is responding.
(0:10) How serious is the opioid epidemic?
(1:09) What kind of approaches are traditionally to treat addiction? What works well and where are there shortcomings?
(2:22) Are people coming to treatment through primary care? Or the behavioral health system?
(4:06) How does medical/behavioral integration work? What does it really mean?
(6:56) CleanSlate is well know for medication based treatments. What kind of medications are available? Who is the approach best suited for?
(8:09) What is the typical course of treatment?
(9:49) As addiction has become more visible, it’s now front and center for others in health care. Do you collaborate with other organizations and if so, how has it gone?
(12:52) You operate in a variety of states, with different cultures. Do you see key differences between Massachusetts, and other states like Texas, Indiana and Wisconsin?
(14:53) Will we still be talking about an opioid epidemic in five years? What will it take to get out of it?
The opioid epidemic is truly devastating. Drug overdoses (mostly opioids) are a leading cause of death in the US, topping guns and car crashes. People don’t want to become addicted to drugs or die from overdoses, so why does it happen so often?
It often starts with a doctor writing a prescription for someone complaining of chronic or acute pain or following a surgical procedure. Little thought is given to the number of pills prescribed; extra pills are either consumed by the patient or left lying around in the medicine cabinet where they may be taken by family members or house guests who have developed a habit. When prescription pills run out and the cost of buying them on the black market is too high, users shift quickly to heroin, which is cheap, potent and readily available. The downward spiral can be steep.
Thankfully, the country is starting to get a grip on the opioid crisis. Health insurers are tightening up on opioid coverage, doctors are trying alternative therapies (like massage) or being more conservative in their prescribing. TV and newspaper stories are pointing out the perils.
Awareness is spreading, including to the younger generation. I’m really pleased to see that some colleges are offering “sober dorms” for students committed to a substance-free lifestyle. The idea is not brand new –a Rutgers program dates back to 1988—but it seems to be gaining traction as more schools try out the approach.
A number of schools offer housing for people in recovery, designed to prevent relapse. New Jersey has a new law requiring any college with more than one quarter of students living on campus to offer sober housing. Other schools are starting to offer sober dorms to students who are looking for a clean lifestyle, whether they are in recovery or not.
It’s also my impression that college administrators are doing more than they used to to enforce alcohol and drug laws, regardless of a dorm’s official designation.