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A New Approach to the Opioid Crisis: Pandemic-Informed Solutions
Policymakers can leverage COVID-19 pandemic era learnings, such as the use of telehealth, the continuation of cross-state licensure, and the employment of peers, to implement measures that support sustained access to evidence-based solutions for the delivery of care to individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD).
The decades-long opioid crisis accelerated during the pandemic. Overdose death rates increased by 30 percent in 2020, and rates continued to climb through 2021. COVID-19 pandemic restrictions made it harder for individuals with OUD to receive treatment and support services. However, they also led to important adaptations such as the expansion of virtual care services for OUD.
The pandemic has offered valuable insight into the effectiveness of telehealth for the treatment of OUD. New innovations have proven essential in protecting access to and continuity of necessary care. Looking forward, they can also inform policy that leads to long-term success in treating and supporting people with OUD, such as expansion of peer supports and flexibility in cross-state provider licensing.
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