Joint Study Between Duke and UNC Shows Work Still to Be Done in Fight Against Opioid Crisis
Progress is being made in North Carolina’s fight against the opioid crisis, according to a new report jointly released by Duke University and the University of North Carolina. However, the report also makes certain that there is still a great deal of work that has to be done. In particular, more people experiencing problems with opioid dependency need to be given access to programs and treatments designed to help them.
The report was an evaluation of Medicaid data in North Carolina and many encouraging trends were uncovered. In one example, fewer people who were enrolled in Medicaid are using prescription opioids overall. In addition, fewer Medicaid enrollees are being given access to prescription opioids in combination with other forms of medication that have a history of increasing the risk of outcomes that are adverse to health.
The Joint Study Shows a Decrease in the Rate of Opioid Overdoses in the State
Most importantly of all, the number of people who suffer an opioid related overdose in North Carolina is in decline as well.
Despite these welcoming indications, the number of people who are experiencing health conditions due to opioid use, or are in danger of experiencing a fatal or non-fatal opioid related overdose is still too high, and it is a number that is increasing. In 2013 and 2014 combined, there were 27,000 Medicaid enrollees who were diagnosed as having some form of opioid use disorder. In 2017 and 2018 combined that number has climbed to 45,000.
“Overall, we are seeing important improvements in the number of Medicaid enrollees with opioid use disorder who receive treatment, reflecting significant federal and state investments in this area,” said Principal Investigator Aaron McKethan, PhD., a member at Duke-Margolis Center for Health. “However, the rate of growth of OUD in the population is outpacing the treatment rate.”
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