If you’ve never heard of the opioid treatment desert, you’re not alone. But the people who live in an opioid treatment desert know exactly what it is because of their limited access to evidence-based addiction treatment options. This can be a particular problem in rural areas.

The sad truth is that in 2018, 10.3 million people misused their prescription opioids. Another 2 million were diagnosed with opioid addiction. Yet, we still have hundreds of counties and areas within the U.S. that are opioid treatment deserts. This tragic reality only makes the opioid crisis in the United States that much more difficult to tackle.

A recent study defined opioid treatment deserts as areas in which the distance to a provider is more than 30 minutes away on public transportation. Previous research has suggested the likelihood of someone staying in treatment for a complete cycle drops by as much as 50% when the treatment provider is just more than a mile away. As one can imagine, it’s already hard enough for those who grapple with addiction to seek professional help, thus any transportation hurdles can be “the straw that broke the camel’s back” and result in the person in need giving up.

The identification of opioid treatment deserts is crucial, as it can essentially aid stakeholders to plan accordingly and allocate vital resources for more equitable treatment access. This potential solution could ultimately reduce the burden of the opioid epidemic while making better use of real-time safety data—to address a rising health epidemic, that has now turned into a public safety crisis.

blue sky with desert sand dunes

Opioid Treatment Desert Impact

“To add insult to injury”, the opioid treatment desert is a problem that plagues areas with limited resources. Normally one of the helpful solutions could come through pharmacotherapy, however, pharmacotherapy is unfortunately restrictive to those who cannot afford the high costs. This particular issue has only added to this country’s opioid crisis, and as such—it continues to grow at an alarming rate. Moreover, these extra costs have increased the financial burden of the crisis to now an estimated $500 billion annually.

Spatial Accessibility

Spatial accessibility is not only when there is a spatial impedance between demand and the supply, but it can also mean the availability of services is limited or the amount of supply that is available to a population group is not sufficient as well.

All Areas Need Opioid Addiction Solutions

Addiction treatment facilities often have scarce bed availability. And it’s not only a problem for those struggling with substance abuse in opioid treatment deserts. As a result, many people live in fear of the pain they will continue to have if these opioid treatment options are unavailable. Those suffering from opioid addiction need a safe, comfortable, and supportive environment for their recovery process. Therefore if a remedy to address these current issues isn’t put into action, it will likely mean the opioid epidemic won’t be going away anytime soon.

The disparity between those who try to seek addiction recovery in an area identified as an opioid treatment desert vs. the land of plenty—can not be ignored. These opioid treatment deserts are an ongoing problem and one that grows every day we don’t find a solution for it. Logically, an epidemic cannot be eliminated if you don’t have readily available treatment options.

Treatment Help

If you are seeking opioid addiction treatment, you should look for a program that will look at your whole life and all of the contributing factors—not just your opioid addiction alone. Your opioid addiction could be only one of the areas you need treatment, but you may also benefit from assistance with other underlying issues too. That said when searching for the best opioid treatment program be sure to look for facilities that offer a variety of treatments and potential solutions—to ensure you have as many recovery options as possible available.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

MAT is the common abbreviation for Medication Assisted Treatment, and it’s considered the standard of care with opioid misuse. Medications like methadone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine can greatly reduce public health costs related to opioid use. These medications can also improve psychosocial outcomes for patients, and more importantly, save lives.

Naltrexone Uses

Naltrexone is a medication that helps reduce cravings and the risk of relapse, especially for people who have stopped using opioids. Naltrexone is approved by the FDA in both oral and injectable forms. In recent years, a time-release Naltrexone Implant option has become available as well at specialized facilities.

About BioCorRx’s Beat Addiction Recovery

Beat Addiction Recovery is a comprehensive MAT program offered to medical professionals for use with their OUD and AUD patients.  The program combines a unique absorbable sustained-release naltrexone medication with CBT modules and a peer support smartphone app.  To become a provider or to find a provider, please visit www.beataddiction.com or call us at 888-993-1099.