Cordant and Community Leaders Discuss Ways to End Stigma Surrounding Opioid Addiction and Treatment

BECKLEY, W.Va. (April 16, 2019) – Cordant Health Solutions™, a leading provider of innovative tools for monitoring and managing behavioral health and chronic pain through its unique pharmacy and drug testing programs, with local community leaders, came together for an important roundtable last week to discussion solutions to combat the stigma that encompasses opioid use disorder. According to the most recent numbers from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017, West Virginia had the highest age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths involving opioids (57.8 per 100,000). The roundtable discussion was led by Decia Stenzel, senior vice president of behavioral health at Cordant, Amanda Duesing, Michael Haney and Tina Ramirez, who all specialize in the field of addiction and substance use. “By organizing and facilitating a second meeting of this nature in West Virginia, we want to continue to support community leaders and other stakeholders in their understanding of addiction as a treatable condition and their role in people’s recovery. The stigma surrounding addiction is challenging to those who progress through recovery. Each roundtable has been productive to break through some of the misconceptions of addiction,” said Stenzel. Also attending the meeting was a representative from Senator Joe Manchin’s office who left informative material for the attendees on how the senator has been a leader in the fight to combat the opioid epidemic by either introducing or cosponsoring more than 40 pieces of legislation. Much of the discussion at the roundtable was focused on dealing with the stigma of drug addiction, especially when it comes to medication-assisted treatment, which is the use of medication with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorders and prevent opioid overdose. Medication-assisted treatment is primarily used for the treatment of addiction to opioids such as heroin and prescription pain relievers that contain opiates. “The addiction epidemic is a complex issue that requires the attention, engagement and cooperation of many different organizations and government agencies,” said Stenzel. “We are hoping through discussion and education we can play a role in changing the preconceived notions that surround drug addiction. Addiction is not a choice or a lack of moral principles or willpower. We know addiction changes the way our brain operates. We need to provide the support for individuals ready for the road to recovery, however long the process.” Overall, the attendees agreed that the evening was helpful in adding to the discussion about critical and necessary dialogue between the many agencies and practices dealing with the effects of opioid addiction on the community, but they also believe much more work and collaboration is needed. Cordant will continue to hold follow-up meetings with various groups to help make a change.