Averhealth, Gen. Barry McCaffrey urges America to protect substance use disorder patients

As the number of drug overdoses skyrockets, Gen. Barry McCaffrey (ret.) is urging Americans to protect its vulnerable substance use disorder patients.

McCaffrey, former Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and board member with Averhealth, said Americans should focus on ensuring those patients have access to treatment.

“America must make it their mission to protect the vulnerable SUD population during this time,” McCaffrey said. “When we are facing such a deadly disease, we can’t afford to lose anyone else to a treatable one.”

It is estimated that more than 20 million people struggle with substance use disorder in the United States and that number continues to grow.

According to the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP), overdose deaths are up 42 percent per month during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the same time frame in 2019. Triggers like housing, food, and income insecurity brought on by the pandemic are problematic for those with substance use disorder (SUD). Additionally, access to treatment and the stigma around addiction sometimes prevent those with SUD from accessing treatment, leading to relapse and overdose during the pandemic.

Averhealth said it was working to keep its patient care centers open in most locations to provide services to clients.

“We believe we must continue providing care, and we must do so safely – We have given all of our staff in our Patient Care Centers PPE, implemented social distancing practices, and other COVID-19 safety protocols to continue pursuing our mission of recovery for our clients,” said CEO and Co-chairman of Averhealth, Jason Herzog.

Liz Carey

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