Studies show that people of color are disproportionately affected by drug overdose deaths and have limited access to treatment. But even if a cure were to be found, a new study found that white patients were on treatment for opioid use disorders longer than black and Hispanic patients.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School randomly sampled a database looking at prescriptions for buprenorphine, a drug used to treat drug addiction, between 2006 and 2020. 44 and 35 days, respectively, according to a study published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry.
Study author Huiru Dong, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts, said: general Hospital.
Buprenorphine, also known by the brand name Suboxone, is a partial opioid agonist that binds to opioid receptors, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Reduces cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and the sedative effects of other opioids.
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Health experts recommend that people with opioid use disorder take the medication for at least 180 days. was shown.
Denis Antoine, Ph.D., Director of Addiction Treatment Services Clinic at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, said: ”
Treatment duration improved for white and black patients, but Since 2006, this study has shown worse in Hispanic patients. , decreased from 40 to 35 days in Hispanic patients.
The randomly selected sample contained 11 million prescriptions from more than 240,000 patients, 84.1% of whom were white, 8.1% black, 6.3% Hispanic, and 1.5% other. species and ethnicity.
The lack of racial and ethnic representation in research is due to unequal access to treatment, health experts say.
“If it was another random sample, it would probably look very similar to this one,” said Sylvia Martins, PhD, professor of epidemiology and director of the Substance Use Epidemiology Unit at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. rice field. the study. “It shows that very few Hispanic and black patients are on medication.”
Unlike the more potent methadone, buprenorphine has a low risk of misuse, so patients do not need to go to the clinic every day for treatment.
It is alarming that there are still large disparities in access to easily available drugs on a daily basis, according to addiction experts, and overdose deaths disproportionately affect people of color. This is because research has shown that
From 2019 to 2020, overdose mortality increased by 44% among blacks and 39% among Native Americans and Alaska Natives, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. The study also found that black men over the age of 65 were about seven times more likely to die from overdose than non-Hispanic white men of the same age.
“This builds on previous research showing that there are structural barriers in certain racial, ethnic and marginalized groups to methadone or buprenorphine treatment,” Martins said.
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These barriers include methods that require special training and certification to enable providers to prescribe buprenorphine. I have established
In addition to breaking down structural barriers, health experts say it is important to improve the social determinants of health that influence substance abuse, such as education, employment and healthcare.
Treatment is “not just drugs,” Antoine said.
“It’s very important to combine it with social support, counseling, psychotherapy and even psychiatric support,” he said. It definitely helps and gives you a chance to deal with everything else.”
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