Like many parts of the country, Virginia has been battling an opioid epidemic over the past several years. During the pandemic, resources often dried up or closed down, leaving many vulnerable clients to relapse or desperately seeking shelter. Now that the pandemic’s emergency is winding down, the state still doesn’t have enough resources to help people get clean and sober.
Increasing Overdoses in Virginia, Nationwide
The pandemic brought a large number of overdoses as people began to turn to despair. In 2020, the Virginia Department of Health tallied 2,297 fatal drugs, a number that authorities say is more than all of the gun and car crash-related deaths reported in the same year.
While addiction is a pressing public health issue, there still aren’t enough services for people in the state. Inpatient beds are sorely lacking, while outpatient clinics are often still operating on a shoestring budget, unable to take on more significant amounts of patients.
New Laws Increase Access
Recently, the Biden administration eased restrictions on Medication-Assisted Treatment, giving doctors more opportunity to administer lifesaving drugs to people with opioid use disorder.
Under the new guidelines, doctors must apply to the Drug Enforcement Administration but no longer need to go through training. They are allowed to prescribe and oversee medication for no more than 30 patients at a time. Previously, they also had to take extensive yearly training and make sure their patients were doing drug treatment or therapy.
More Treatment Access Post-COVID
Now, patients can choose their method of therapy without having a doctor oversee their treatment. This leaves many options for people to choose their recovery path.
People who prefer to go to 12 step meetings, or have televisit sessions, may decide to do so while receiving MAT. Online therapy has been proven to be just as effective as in-person therapy. In addition, online therapy offers people in remote situations more accessibility to specialized treatment for substance use disorder. During the pandemic, this saved lives, and it will continue to.