Keli McLoyd started her guest-speaker presentation by reminding students that addiction in Philadelphia is not exclusively to opioids. Alcohol use disorder and addiction to other drugs like crack and benzos are still very prevalent in the Philadelphia community. Furthermore, she emphasized the need for the conversation surrounding the opioid crisis to not be solely about white individuals. POC are also affected by this crisis, and they need to be included in the conversation to have a full understanding of the situation.
McLoyd gave a thorough explanation of the different medications that are used to treat addiction involving opioid use. Methadone, which is often prescribed to treat opioid addiction, is a medication that requires supervision in many cases, as one could potentially get high off of the medication if taken in excess. We talked about why Methadone is so problematic, as it is highly stigmatized, many individuals can’t tolerate the medication, and it is very difficult to be an active member of society while traveling to the clinic every day to take Methadone. It is even harder to participate in society while taking Methadone if one lives in a rural area. Individuals who suffer from opioid use disorder do not always have access to a clinic; however, it is one of the most widely prescribed medications to treat the disorder. As we discussed, doctors do not need to have a certification to write a script for access to the Methadone clinic, although they would need to complete a course to prescribe Buprenorphine, also known as Suboxone.
McLoyd described Suboxone as a nicer and newer drug that tends to work for more people. She explained that some individuals that she knows may be on the drug for the rest of their lives, and that isn’t necessarily problematic. Suboxone can be taken in the privacy of one’s home, and it is very possible to lead a “normal” life while on the medication. It isn’t as widely prescribed, however, because doctors must go through a time-consuming training before prescribing it. Because not all doctors have the certification, they must acknowledge the reality that their clientele would likely change after receiving the training. The last medication we discussed was Naltrexone, also known as Vivitrol, which is considered the least stigmatized drug for treating opioid use disorder. Vivitrol is an injection that lasts 30-90 days and blocks opioid receptors entirely so one can’t get high off of opioids. This works as a deterrent from using, although one could still overdose after receiving the injection. This is the most expensive drug for treatment, which is another reason why it is the least stigmatized.