A University of South Carolina professor and researcher with the College of Social Work will be in Washington, D.C. Thursday to give her expertise on the nation’s opioid crisis.
Dr. Christina Andrews is scheduled to testify before a subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce at a hearing titled The Opioid Epidemic: Implications for America’s Workplace.
“One of the things in particular that I’ll be speaking about is the ways we can expand access to substance abuse disorder treatment in order to help people who are struggling with addiction to move into recovery and get back to work,” she said.
The committee wants to understand how opioid use and opioid use disorder affects Americans’ ability to participate in the workforce and their impact on employers and the economy.
Andrews said many employers are moving away from zero-tolerance substance abuse policies.
“I think that comes from an understanding that is growing that addiction is really a disease and a lot of research that we have suggests both that it is a medical condition much like any other conditions and can be treated,” she said. “Many more employers are beginning to develop connections to treatment and to refer their employees to services so that they can move into recovery. A lot of these employees can make valuable, long-term contributions to the employers and so they see value in helping them to get better so they can retain them.”
In regard to the problem in South Carolina, “Devoting as many resources as we can to provide access to evidence-based opioid use disorder treatment, particularly access to medications that research have shown can be very effective at helping people get into recovery and stay in recovery is going to be really important,” she said.
“It’s going to be really, really important to make sure that we get Naloxone into the hands of every first responder in the state,” she said. She also said she wants to get more involved in addressing the issue in South Carolina.
Andrews is in the middle of a five-year study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse looking at the impact the Affordable Care Act is having on the quality and accessibility of substance abuse treatment in the United States. She co-authored an article in the New England Journal of Medicine titled, “How Repealing the ACA Would Worsen the Opioid Epidemic.
Other opioid-related research: