Key reads

White House releases plan to increase access to treatment for pregnant individuals

The White House released a plan to expand access to substance use disorder (SUD) treatment for pregnant individuals. Pregnant individuals are among the most motivated to overcome addiction but among the least likely to receive care. The report stressed that having SUD during pregnancy “is not, by itself, child abuse or neglect,” and that “criminalizing S.U.D. in pregnancy is ineffective and harmful.” Under the plan, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will train judges to incorporate the use of medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) into sentencing for pregnant individuals, and addiction experts will focus on improving access to MOUD in communities with the highest SUD rates. Health care providers who treat veterans will undergo training and start pilot programs to integrate MOUD into care. The Indian Health Service will train employees to screen those who are pregnant or of childbearing age for OUD. SAMHSA will track the number of obstetricians and midwives approved to prescribe buprenorphine, hire an associate administrator for women’s services and develop national certification standards for peer support specialists.

Source: Biden Administration Offers Plan to Get Addiction-Fighting Medicine to Pregnant Women (New York Times)

Providing buprenorphine in ambulances could lead more people to treatment

No ambulances routinely carried buprenorphine until 2019, when a group of paramedics in Camden, New Jersey, became the first to receive training on the medication, and ambulances in the state were authorized to carry it. Since then, emergency medical teams in a few locations have started similar programs, but on-the-scene administration of buprenorphine has failed to take off nationally. Following a recent study that provides evidence that administering buprenorphine in the first few minutes after an overdose resulted in a substantial number of patients seeking treatment within 30 days, reduced withdrawal symptoms and only added a few minutes to stops, emergency medical services groups in other parts of the country may be more likely to adopt the protocol. Although the Biden administration eliminated the eight-hour training requirement for physicians to administer buprenorphine, it is still not available in most hospital emergency departments.

Source: A New Paramedic Policy May Guide Overdose Patients Into Treatment (Pew)

Federal news

Surgeon General releases framework for mental health and well-being in the workplace

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released a new Surgeon General’s Framework for Mental Health & Well-Being in the Workplace outlining the foundational role that workplaces should play in promoting the health and well-being of workers and communities. It outlines Five Essentials for Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being to help organizations develop, institutionalize and update policies, processes, and practices that best support the mental health and well-being of all workers. These essentials are protection from harm, connection and community, work-life harmony, mattering at work and opportunities for growth. The framework includes evidence-informed practices that leadership across workplaces can apply.

Source: U.S. Surgeon General Releases New Framework for Mental Health & Well-Being in the Workplace (Department of Health and Human Services)

HHS announces more than $100 million for mental health services

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced more than $100 million in funding from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to states and territories for mental health emergency preparedness, crisis response and expansion of 988 crisis line services. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded $59.4 million to states and territories through the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant program, with the recommendation that the funding be spent to address mental health emergency preparedness and crisis response efforts. SAMHSA sent a letter to state mental health commissioners recommending that state behavioral health systems examine requirements to address mental health needs in communities in the aftermath of traumatic events such as mass shootings. HHS also announced another $50 million in supplemental grant funding to help states and territories expand and enhance 988. In total, the administration has invested over $432 million in 988.

Source: HHS Announces More Than $100 Million in Bipartisan Safer Communities Act Funds for States and Territories to Improve Mental Health Services (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

FDA issues first marketing denial orders for menthol e-cigarettes

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued marketing denial orders for several e-cigarette products currently marketed by Logic, including the Logic Pro Menthol e-Liquid Package and Logic Power Menthol e-Liquid Package. The company must not market or distribute the products in the U.S. These are the first menthol e-cigarette products to receive a marketing decision based on a full scientific review from the FDA. The agency determined that the applications to market the products lacked sufficient evidence to demonstrate that permitting the marketing of the products would be appropriate for the protection of public health.

Source: FDA Denies Marketing of Logic’s Menthol E-Cigarette Products Following Determination They Do Not Meet Public Health Standard (Food and Drug Administration)

State and local news

Walmart and Florida reach opioid settlement

Walmart has agreed to pay $215 million to resolve claims that its pharmacies fueled the opioid crisis in Florida. As part of the deal, Walmart has also agreed to dispense 672,000 naloxone kits to first responders. The settlement comes on top of previous deals the state has struck with pharmacy operators Walgreens and CVS, drugmakers Teva and AbbVie, and others. The state has secured a total of $3.2 billion through legal action to help fight the opioid crisis.

Source: Walmart to pay $215 mln to settle Florida opioid claims (Reuters)

Virginia launches opioid cost calculator

The Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health developed an opioid cost calculator, which presents cost estimates of how much the opioid crisis impacts the state in terms of lost labor, health care, crime, household costs, state costs and federal costs. The overall cost of the opioid epidemic in the state in 2020 was $3.5 billion. The project was funded through the CDC Overdose Data to Action initiative.

Source: Virginia Department Of Health And Virginia Commonwealth University Partner To Launch An Opioid Cost Calculator (Virginia Department of Health)

States opt out of CDC Youth Risk Behavior survey

Colorado, Florida and Idaho withdrew from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior survey. Over the past 30 years, the state-level surveys have helped show the mental health stressors and safety risks for high school students. The states’ withdrawal has caught the attention of school psychologists and federal and state health officials. Some questions on the survey, which can ask students about sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual activity and substance use, clash with laws that have been passed in conservative states. Some experts worry that the political attention on teachers and school curriculums has led to a reluctance among educators to have students participate in what were once considered routine assessments. The reduction in the number of states that participate will make it harder for those states to track conditions and behaviors that signal poor mental health.

Source: States Opting Out of a Federal Program That Tracks Teen Behavior as Youth Mental Health Worsens (Kaiser Health News)

Other news in addiction policy

People with addiction continue to face stigmatizing language

Despite the widespread addiction crisis, many who seek treatment continue to face stigmatizing labels. Research shows that word choices can have a big impact on the way health professionals view their patients and the care they receive. A coalition of doctors, recovery advocates, researchers and government officials has pushed to swap out stigmatizing terms in favor of language that recognizes addiction as a medical condition and acknowledges those who suffer from it as human beings. Most institutions have been slow to change, with major news sites and even the highest levels of government continuing to use stigmatizing language. With Biden as president, however, there have been more signs of change. For the first time, the White House proposed changing the names of agencies such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Source: When it comes to addiction, Americans’ word choices are part of the problem (STAT)

CCBHCs continue to expand access to care

New data from the National Council for Mental Wellbeing’s 2022 CCBHC Impact Report conducted by The Harris Poll found that Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) continue to expand access to care, alleviate workforce challenges and strengthen the crisis care system. CCBHCs offer access to mental health services faster than the national average wait time and provide access to certain forms of addiction treatment at vastly higher rates than non-CCBHCs. An estimated 2.1 million people are served nationwide by all CCBHCs and grantees. Since becoming CCBHCs, 100% of respondents reported taking steps to improve access to care and reduce health disparities among people of color and marginalized populations. The survey found 98% offer access to 24/7 crisis lines, 97% to mobile crisis response and 94% to crisis stabilization services. According to the survey, 82% use one or more forms of medications for opioid use disorder, compared to 58% of substance use clinics nationwide.

Source: Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics Tackle Mental Health, Substance Use Crises with Expanded Access to Care (National Council for Mental Wellbeing)