The Policy Analyst for the Public Health Management Corporation, Keli McLoyd, came to class on Thursday to speak about Narcan, medically assisted treatment (MAT), and where to find reliable data concerning opioids.

It was an interesting lecture — my favorite so far, actually. McLoyd talked about the some of the cons that are associated with methadone clinics, one of the bigger ones being that it was a very public place. Everyone knew what you were doing if you were there, as though it were something to be ashamed of instead of being viewed as aiding in recovery. Granted, that’s something that is prevalent when addiction is concerned.

It actually made me think about my own hometown, and even some of my family members. There’s a lot of substance addiction in the county that I grew up in. It’s a rural area, and a lot of the residents are well below the poverty line. Instead of attempting to offer those with substance use disorders any actual help, from what I understand the county just finds it easier to arrest them. That mentality has bled over into a lot of the residents, with them turning their noses at people who genuinely need help. It’s frustrating — and difficult, at times — to go back home and really see just how strong that stigma is.

And it’s not just a stigma that affects people socially — McLoyd said that doctors aren’t ready to treat opioid use disorders. Medical students are only getting an hour of training when it comes to addiction education. That just blows my mind. How are people supposed to get the help that they deserve when these stigmas are affecting their lives?

Overall, I learned a lot. I checked out some of the resources that McLoyd recommended, and I have a feeling that they’ll definitely come in handy in the future. I feel like I’m more prepared to handle discussions concerning harm reduction and MAT.