Our expert answers 3 Questions
I’m looking at factors that drive addiction to opioids (also called opioid use disorder), and also understanding the current landscape of substance use disorder treatment in order to improve treatment and access. Many people have heard about the “opioid epidemic,” but what’s so concerning is that mortality rates continue to rise. We know that medication-based treatment is effective for people who have developed an opioid use disorder, even in reducing mortality, but many people do not receive these treatments. Much of the barrier lies in access and limited numbers of trained providers, but the picture is also more complex. And it is critical to understand how addiction treatment is delivered in the U.S. in order to improve it.
What keeps me interested has been my clinical work treating patients with opioid and other substance use disorders. Currently, I work at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System with a complex patient population who often have multiple comorbid mental health and chronic medical conditions, and also face substantial psychosocial stressors. The best part is that many of these Veterans get better. What motivates me is seeing how a high-quality healthcare and treatment environment can make a difference.
Addiction and mental health disorders have widespread impacts on the lives of many people and treatment is often highly varied and suboptimal. My overall research goal is to help policy makers and health system leaders improve care by highlighting gaps in current treatment delivery and also inform new interventions to provide more equitable access to effective treatments.