Opioid misuse is deeply pervasive, even in an all-American place like Marshalltown, Iowa. It’s estimated 1 in 6 children live in a home with active addiction. “As a family doctor in the community for 20 years, I’m burying someone every week,” says Dr. Tim Swinton. “I’m seeing people struggle throughout their lives and then have kids who also struggle. And they use drugs to deal with the stress of it all.”
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As America continues to deal with an opioid overdose epidemic of staggering proportions, public health initiatives are faced with the needs of the more than 1.7 million people who are suffering from opioid use disorder (OUD) as of 2017.1 This crisis is exacerbated by the shortage of health care practitioners trained and able to use FDA approved medication, like buprenorphine, to treat patients with an OUD. In a nation with a population exceeding 320 million, there are only 1100 psychiatrists specializing in addiction—the need for providers who are equipped and able to treat OUD is greater than ever. In a recent paper from the Yale School of Medicine Srinivas B. Muvvala, MD, MPH, Ellen Lockard Edens, MD, MPE, and Ismene L. Petrakis, MD, call upon psychiatrists and mental health professionals to play a more active role in addressing the current opioid crisis.