15/04/2024

Care Health

Prioritize Healthy life

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services allows telemedicine treatment for opioid use disorder

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services allows telemedicine treatment for opioid use disorder

BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) – Back in November, the CDC released a report saying nearly 49 million Americans have or have had a substance abuse disorder. That’s about 1 out of every 6 people. It says out of those, nearly 6 million struggle with opioid misuse.

KFF.org says in 2021, 74 people in North Dakota died from opioid overdoses. For those who have an opioid disorder, getting treatment might be the difference between life and death.

Kathy Nevins, a nurse practitioner at Essentia Health, said it’s a growing problem in the state.

“As a country, we’re treating 12 to 20 percent— I see varying numbers— of people who have this disease, this chronic health disease. We often will say it’s similar to diabetes or hypertension, where it is a chronic health condition that needs to be treated,” Nevins said.

Nevins said often, people might feel ashamed to seek treatment for this disorder because of the stigma that can come with having a drug problem.

Dr. Alexandra Kohlhase, a psychologist at Essentia Health, said substance abuse disorders usually go hand-in-hand with mental health disorders. She said it’s a disease anyone can develop.

“I don’t think anyone is immune, and I think the more we can talk about these things and normalize treatments, the more likely it is that people are going to get the help that they need.”

Nevins said she’s able to see about 16 patients a day via telemedicine, but in the clinic, she could only see around 12. She also said it’s a great way to make treatment more accessible for those living in rural areas.

Nevins said a benefit of seeking treatment for opioid disorders includes being prescribed alternative, non-lethal medications to help with withdrawal symptoms.