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Spring 2023 - Safety

Opioid Addiction: An Expert’s Perspective

Alicia House has been working in the opioid use disorder field since 2017... she held positions at the organization in sober living, outreach, intake coordination and overdose prevention.

Alicia HouseAlicia House has been working in the opioid use disorder field since 2017. Prior to her current role as executive director for the Steve Rummler HOPE Network (SRHN), she held positions at the organization in sober living, outreach, intake coordination and overdose prevention. Alicia has been on the Minnesota Opioid Epidemic Response Council since 2020 and is a current advocacy member for the FED UP! Coalition.

BSTQ: Tell us about SRHN.

Alicia: The mission of SRHN is to heighten awareness of the opioid crisis, address its impact on the physical and emotional burdens of addiction and chronic pain and improve the associated care processes. We envision a world in which individuals impacted by the opioid crisis have access to compassionate, evidence-based treatment, and can find support and acceptance in their communities. Since its inception in 2011, SRHN has been an important leader in addressing the opioid epidemic in Minnesota and across the nation. Our flagship program began in 2015 and operates today with two simple philosophies: No one should have to die of an overdose, and everyone deserves the chance for recovery. We provide naloxone (the opioid overdose reversal medication) training, education, organizational policies and fentanyl test strip (FTS) kits to the public at no cost. We also create educational content on topics such as stigma and harm reduction, pathways to recovery and opioid use disorder.

BSTQ: How does your overdose response training work?

Alicia: SRHN’s training covers basic naloxone pharmacology, recognizing overdose symptoms and different administration types (intramuscular [IM] and intranasal/nasal applicator). We offer one-hour in-person and virtual training. After the training, participants receive a certificate and a free naloxone kit.

BSTQ: What is Naloxone Access Point (NAP)?

Alicia: NAP is a publicly accessible pick-up site that anyone can visit to pick up free IM naloxone and FTS kits. SRHN is currently partnered with 87 organizations and businesses across the state of Minnesota that help improve community access to lifesaving overdose prevention resources.

BSTQ: What role does education play in helping individuals and families recover?

Alicia: Without knowing what help exists, families are not able to advocate for individualized care. Instead, they may be told what they need without being in a position to question the approach, which may not uncover what may ultimately be needed and deserved for a successful outcome.

At SRHN, we develop educational content on topics ranging from substance use disorders, harm reduction, chronic pain and, of course, the opioid crisis.

BSTQ: Tell us about your advocacy work.

Alicia: SRHN advances public policies and legislation at the local, state and national levels that will improve care for those suffering from chronic pain, increase oversight of Big Pharma and shift the structural treatment of those with the disease of addiction. We succeeded in passing the 2014 Steve’s Law, also known as Minnesota’s Good Samaritan and Naloxone Law, which allows any layperson to carry and administer naloxone, as well as provides limited immunity from prosecution for possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia to those who seek medical assistance for someone experiencing a drug overdose if the items are found as a result of the person seeking help; the overdose victim is protected as well. We also wrote and passed the Opioid Epidemic Response Law in 2019, which raises funds from drug manufacturer and distributor fees related to the prescribing, manufacturing and distribution of opioids in the state, to help fight the opioid crisis in Minnesota.

BSTQ: What do you wish healthcare professionals understood about the opioid crisis?

Alicia: Everyone’s experience of this crisis is different. It is important that we understand the lens we see through is going to give us a unique picture of what this crisis is and how it is affecting our communities. Because of this, we cannot treat individual patients the same as everyone else. This means the level of care, medications, dosing, expectations, etc., need to be tailored to the individual. No one has as much knowledge and understanding of what is best for someone as the people going through the treatment.

Trudie Mitschang
Trudie Mitschang is a contributing writer for BioSupply Trends Quarterly magazine.