Podcast episode: “Is it time to abandon the ‘tough love’ approach to addiction?”

In this episode of On Point, the focus is on reevaluating traditional models of addiction treatment and the role of family members and loved ones of people with addiction. While drug overdose deaths are at an all-time high, the traditional “hit rock bottom” tough-love approach to addiction treatment perpetuates stigma and the wrongful assumption that addiction is a choice and a moral failing instead of a treatable chronic health condition. Alicia Ventura, Director of Special Projects at the Grayken Center for Addiction Training and Technical Assistance program at Boston Medical Center, highlights the flaws in this approach, advocating for a shift toward supporting loved ones in their recovery from addiction. As the discussion unfolds, the episode prompts listeners to consider whether it’s time to overhaul existing paradigms and embrace more empathetic and effective approaches to addressing addiction.

Click here to access the full On Point podcast episode on WBUR’s website.

Methadone Regulation Changes

On February 2, 2024, HHS, through SAMHSA, published a final rule to comprehensively update regulations governing Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs), the only programs where people can access methadone treatment for opioid use disorder. The final rule seeks to dramatically expand access to life-saving medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) and to reduce stigma. These updates are the first substantial changes to these regulations in more than two decades. Following a 60-day period from the publication date, the new rules will take full effect within six months, providing OTPs with the opportunity to prepare for implementation. In addition, xylazine test strips can be billed to certain federal grants. Please click here to continue reading on the HHS.gov website.

Evaluation of the NE OBAT ECHO: A Tool for Strengthening the Addiction Workforce

Published in Substance Abuse journal (SAj)Evaluation of the New England Office Based Addiction Treatment ECHO: A Tool for Strengthening the Addiction Workforce, describes the New England Office Based Addiction Treatment Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (NE OBAT ECHO) program’s impact on the knowledge and attitudes of participants. Click here to read the article.

Heerema MR, Ventura AS, Blakemore SC, et al. Evaluation of the New England Office Based Addiction Treatment ECHO: A Tool for Strengthening the Addiction Workforce. Substance Abuse. 2023;0(0). doi:10.1177/08897077231179601

Telehealth Rule Extended for Controlled Substance Prescribing Flexibilities

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released its proposed telemedicine rules in February and received major backlash, with a record 38,000 comments on the proposed rules.

“We take those comments seriously and are considering them carefully. We recognize the importance of telemedicine in providing Americans with access to needed medications, and we have decided to extend the current flexibilities while we work to find a way forward to give Americans that access with appropriate safeguards,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in a statement issued Wednesday.

Last week, the DEA filed a draft temporary rule with the Office of Management and Budget titled “Temporary Extension of COVID-19 Telemedicine Flexibilities for Prescription of Controlled Medications.” If a telemedicine relationship was established during the COVID-19 public health emergency, the DEA will extend the in-person exam waiver for an additional 180 days.

Click here to read the full Fierce Healthcare article by Heather Landi.

Why the U.S. designated Xylazine an emerging threat

The Biden-Harris administration declared the combination of xylazine and fentanyl an emerging threat. Xylazine’s growing role in overdose deaths nationwide prompted the Administration to make this designation for the first time in U.S. history. Ali Rogin discussed the threat with Dr. Raagini Jawa of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Click here to watch the 5-minute PBS NewsHour video.

We encourage you to educate patients about xylazine and how to reduce harm. Boston Medical Center’s Grayken Center for Addiction TTA and the University of Pittsburgh have created xylazine informational handouts for patients. There are pocket-size versions in English and Spanish and a larger size version for visual display. Click here to access these resources.

BREAKING NEWS: Biden-Harris Administration Designates Fentanyl Combined with Xylazine as an Emerging Threat to the United States

Xylazine’s growing role in overdose deaths nationwide prompts the Administration to make this designation for the first time in U.S. history. Click here to read the press release.

We encourage you to educate patients about xylazine and how to reduce harm. Boston Medical Center’s Grayken Center for Addiction TTA and the University of Pittsburgh have created xylazine informational handouts for patients. There are pocket-size versions in English and Spanish and a larger size version for visual display. Click here to access these resources.

After a spat with the RMV, this BMC researcher is taking his ‘NARCAN’ license plate on the road

The Registry of Motor Vehicles originally rejected Stephen Murray’s application to have ‘NARCAN’ as a license plate, stating it was too “vulgar”. Then, after receiving pushback, the RMV reversed its decision. Murray, an overdose researcher at BMC, hopes that his new license plate aids in eliminating the stigma surrounding this life-saving drug and the people who need it.

Click here to read this Boston Globe article by Spencer Buell.

Podcast: The Impact of Addiction on Families

Alicia Ventura, MPH, Director of Special Projects and Research for the Grayken Center for Addiction TTA Program at Boston Medical Center, joins the Right Mind Media Podcast to share what families can do to positively affect the outcome for their loved one with a substance use disorder. Click here to access the episode.

Codependency Is a Toxic Myth in Addiction Recovery

Published by The New York Times, Maia Szalavitz’s opinion piece explores the harms of “tough love” as a remedy for perceived codependency among those with substance use disorders and their loved ones. The author critiques the false rhetoric surrounding “codependency,” including a history of media and “treatment practices” hindering recovery. Szalavitz’s article truly sheds light on the importance of supporting loved ones experiencing addiction.

To read the article, click here.

Suspending syringe services programs will result in an increase of HIV infections, study finds

Brown University researchers identify the effectiveness of syringe services programs in decreasing HIV transmission using a simulation model research approach. The study analyzes trends in infection if existing syringe services programs are closed, and the researchers utilize the data to increase awareness regarding the public health benefits of syringe services programs, an issue that is politically charged.

Read the article here.