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AMA President Highlights Reduction in Stigma to Help End Opioid Crisis

Reducing stigma is a key part of fighting the opioid crisis, according to Patrice Harris, MD, President of the American Medical Association and Chair of the AMA’s Opioid Task Force.

“We must all confront the intangible and often devastating effects of stigma,” she said. “The key to recovery is support and compassion. Patients in pain and patients with a substance use disorder need comprehensive treatment, not judgment.”

In their 2018 report, the Opioid Task Force recommended 4 key steps to combat the epidemic of opioid use.

  1. All public and private payers should ensure that their formularies include all FDA-approved forms of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and remove administrative barriers to treatment, including prior authorization.
  2. Policymakers and regulators should increase oversight and enforcement of parity laws for mental health and substance use disorders to ensure patients receive the care that they need.
  3. All public and private payers—as well as pharmacy benefit management companies—must ensure that patients have access to affordable, non-opioid pain care.
  4. We can all help put an end to stigma. Patients with pain or substance use disorders deserve the same care and compassion as any other patient with a chronic medical condition.

“Unfortunately, we still have a lot of people who think that people who have substance-use disorders have character flaws, or that having an addiction is a moral failing,” said Dr Harris. “It is not. It is a brain disorder resulting in a chronic medical condition analogous to other chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. We have to do whatever we can to reduce the stigma.”

Published date: May 19, 2019


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