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- Pre-COVID-19, only 10 percent of those with SUDs received treatment, contributing to the 70,000 annual deaths from drug overdose, of which more than two-thirds are opioid-related. In the current context, the opioid crisis is being acutely aggravated. The pandemic has exacerbated the weaknesses of an already fragile system—a system rife with both individual and structural stigma against patients and medications for treatment—that many individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) found difficult to enter and navigate. The need to address stigma has never been more pressing.
- Barriers at the system level present as restrictive requirements limiting access, coverage, and reimbursement for OUD treatment. Health care policies and payer structures have not been built to treat OUD as a chronic disease, perpetuating gaps in access to and provision of affordable, evidence-based treatment. Complex requirements for practitioner waivers and pre-authorizations can serve as additional barriers, reinforcing continued isolation and stigmatization of treatment.