Why Communities Need Addiction Treatment Centers

addiction treatment centers

Plus: Hard truths about MAT racial inequities, a predictive OD model, and the harm that drinking can do when you’re trying to get pregnant

By William Wagner

Research out of Princeton University demonstrates just how beneficial addiction treatment centers can be for communities. Other topics that piqued our interest include racial disparities in medication-assisted treatment (MAT), a model that has the potential to predict where the next opioid outbreaks will happen, and the deleterious effects of drinking when trying to conceive a child.

From the National Bureau of Economic Research:
The Need for Treatment Centers

How important is an addiction treatment center to the well-being of an area? A working paper by Princeton University’s Janet Currie, Ph.D., and Adriana Corredor-Waldron, Ph.D., takes on that question by examining the impact that openings and closings of treatment centers in New Jersey had on drug-related emergency room visits for nearby residents.

The results [of the study] suggest that expanding access to treatment results in significant reductions in morbidity related to drug abuse.”—Janet Currie and Adriana Corredor-Waldron, Princeton University

Currie and Corredor-Waldron found that drug-related ER trips increased by 16.6% after a treatment center closed and decreased by 9.5% when one opened. “The results [of the study] suggest that expanding access to treatment results in significant reductions in morbidity related to drug abuse,” the two write.

From Health Affairs:
MAT and Race

In recent years, people of color have been more dramatically affected than whites by the opioid epidemic. Yet according to research from Barbara Andraka-Christou, Ph.D., an assistant professor in global health management and informatics at the University of Central Florida, people of color with opioid use disorder (OUD) receive disproportionately low MAT.

It isn’t, however, a problem without a solution. “To address disparities in the initiation and retention of treatment using medication for OUD,” she writes in Health Affairs, “policy makers should consider strategies such as Medicaid expansion, increased grant funding for federally qualified health centers to provide buprenorphine treatment, retention of temporary telehealth policies that allow remote buprenorphine induction, and regulatory changes to allow methadone treatment in office-based practices.”

From The Lancet:
A Predictive OD model

What if you could predict where the next opioid outbreak was going to occur? You might finally get a leg up on the opioid epidemic, right? Researchers from the University of California San Diego, San Diego State University and other institutions are attempting to do just that. By studying patterns from several years of the opioid epidemic, they’ve developed a model that predicts which counties in the U.S. might be at risk for a spate of overdose deaths. It’s an open-source tool that would enable public health officials to marshal resources in particular areas before disaster strikes.

Despite its potential, the researchers stress that their platform will only be as good as the quality of the data that’s being used. “Notably, timely and geographically representative data on drug use, associated outcomes, and drug markets are crucial to increasing predictive power of these tools,” the researchers write in The Lancet. “A stronger drug market surveillance infrastructure is needed.”

From Human Reproduction:
How Drinking Affects Conceiving a Baby

If you want to get pregnant, don’t drink. So say researchers led by Kira Taylor, Ph.D., an associate professor of epidemiology and population health at the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences. Their work shows that drinking adversely effects a woman’s menstrual cycle, especially the second half of it. “These results support previous studies that showed heavy and/or binge drinking were predictors for lower probability of conception, and also suggests that even modest drinking levels may decrease fecundability if consumed during critical physiologic intervals of the menstrual cycle,” they write in Human Reproduction.

Photo: Finn