CleanSlate Blog

Why Are We Continuing to Make Life-Saving Addiction Treatment So Hard to Access?

by Greg Marotta | Oct 8, 2019

Amidst a divisive political climate, there’s one issue that every side agrees upon: the urgent need to combat the deadly opioid epidemic.

Last fall, rare bipartisan cooperation resulted in the passage of the SUPPORT Act, a sweeping package of legislation which addresses multiple aspects of this complex crisis, including treatment, recovery and prevention. This political achievement is to be commended. But a fatal oversight in SUPPORT means that more lives will needlessly be lost every day.

Wildfire without water 

Imagine a fast-moving wildfire that is decimating a community. 

Now picture this scenario: before firefighters can race to put out the flames, they must submit to a lengthy bureaucratic process for permission to use their hoses. Once granted, the approval still comes with a caveat: the firefighters are only allowed to save a small number of homes. After that, they must turn off their hoses and watch the rest of the town go up in flames.

This is the current state we’re in when it comes to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction.

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Surprised at Which Group is Suffering Skyrocketing Rates of Overdoses? You Shouldn't Be.

by Greg Marotta | Feb 15, 2019

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concludes that while the opioid epidemic has profoundly impacted all parts of the population over the past nearly 20 years, drug overdose rates have dramatically multiplied amongst one group of people in particular. The findings have garnered wide news coverage as “unexpected.”

Why? Because the group in question is middle-aged women.

This may seem like surprising news, but it isn’t. A deeper look shows that this group has long been vulnerable to high rates of overdoses, a fact that has been well documented for years. For example, a study several years ago by Geisinger Health System concluded that white, middle-aged women were most at risk of prescription opioid overdose. If you want to go back further, we can even time travel to the late 1800s, when women made up 60 percent of the population addicted to opium.

There's a very long history here, which we’ll get to in a minute.

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Stigma Against Addiction Medication Fading, Ringing in Hopeful Signs for Opioid Epidemic in 2019

by Greg Marotta | Jan 14, 2019

Twenty-eight years after opioid deaths began to rise in tandem with sharp increases in prescriptions for pain treatment, healthcare leaders have long since reached important conclusions about what’s working in stemming the tide of overdose deaths, and what isn’t.

The challenge has been to align the actions of individuals, organizations and legislators with the evidence-based data on how to successfully treat opioid use disorder (OUD).

Top on the list of underutilized success stories is medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which combines behavioral therapy with one of three FDA-approved medications: buprenorphine, naltrexone or methadone. A study published last August by the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine was the first in the U.S. to compare how these three medications are used and how they impact mortality. The conclusions were startlingly clear: overdose survivors who went on to be treated with medication reduced their risk of death by 40 to 60 percent.

Despite the well-documented success rate of MAT, the Annals of Internal Medicine study found that only 30 percent of overdose survivors are given any one of the three FDA-approved medications for their disease.

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For CleanSlate's "Top Addiction Medicine Doc" in Philadelphia, Expertise Came from Heartbreaking Family Trauma

by Greg Marotta | Aug 9, 2018

In Pennsylvania, the opioid epidemic has killed more people than any other health crisis in the state’s modern history, with fatal overdoses ranking the fourth highest in the country. The disaster is so acute that Governor Tom Wolf last year issued the first-ever Statewide Disaster Declaration for a public health crisis in Pennsylvania. Wolf and other state leaders are working harder than ever to increase access to treatment, including outpatient medication treatment.

Dr. Julie O'Hara is one medication treatment expert who has answered the call of this battle. Recently named for the second time a "Top Doc for Addiction Medicine" in Philadelphia, O'Hara brings her own harrowing experience to her role as Center Medical Director for CleanSlate's two outpatient addiction centers in Philadelphia as well as its center in Scranton. O'Hara's journey facing addiction personally has given her a remarkable ability to connect with patients in ways that have made her popular and beloved throughout her career in addiction medicine.

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Addiction Crisis in the Workforce: How Employers are Combating the Opioid Epidemic

by Greg Marotta | Jun 11, 2018

America’s workforce is being hollowed out by the opioid epidemic. And amidst the skyrocketing rates of addiction, businesses across every industry are reckoning with the best approach to protect, retain and hire employees. 

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Why Aren't We Talking About One of the Most Effective Treatments for Alcoholism?

by Greg Marotta | Apr 25, 2018

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, a time to reflect on the perils of alcohol addiction and the pathways to recovery. As we close out the month, perhaps the occasion has sparked just a little more discussion and determination around seeking treatment.

But one thing is for certain, this month and every month: few people are discussing one of the most effective forms of treating alcoholism.


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4 Steps to Protect Your Kids from Opioid Addiction

by Greg Marotta | Mar 29, 2018

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently delivered more bad news regarding the nation’s devastating opioid epidemic: overdoses from opioids jumped approximately 30 percent from the third quarter 2016 through third quarter 2017. Though the number of people suffering from opioid use disorder appears to be relatively stable, the spike in overdoses appears to be the result of more dangerous opioids, such as the highly potent opioid fentanyl, which have been flooding the country in recent years.

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Policy Strides Increase Access to Medication Treatment for Opioid Addiction

by Greg Marotta | Mar 27, 2018

An estimated 175 people die every day in the United States from drug overdoses, including overdoses from prescription opioid painkillers and heroin. We are witnessing an unrelenting crisis in our country. Getting proven treatment to those suffering from addiction is one of the biggest challenges in battling the opioid epidemic. 

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The Economic Costs of the Opioid Epidemic Means We Invest Now or Pay Later

by Greg Marotta | Jan 22, 2018

The patrol officer drove up behind the SUV that had pulled to the shoulder of I-4 in Central Florida, its hazard lights blinking, engine still running. He assumed the problem was a disabled vehicle, but then noticed the passenger door open, a figure apparently leaning against the side of the car. Then another figure, in the grass nearby, also motionless.

The figures were Daniel Kelsey, 32, and Heather Kelsey, 30, both dead from an overdose of fentanyl, a drug 50 times more potent than heroin.

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Pennsylvania's Newly Declared Disaster Emergency Raises Hopes in Hard-Hit Philadelphia

by Greg Marotta | Jan 19, 2018

Disaster emergencies used to be declared for extraordinary catastrophes like wildfires or terrorist attacks. Now they’re declared for out of control overdose deaths.

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