Combating the Opioid Epidemic Through Evidence Based Home Visiting

Home Visiting Policy Network

Dear Colleagues,

As we all know, MIECHV still must be reauthorized.  Our commitment to seeing that it happens has never wavered and has been strengthened through renewed resources and mechanisms to increase our educational work to stakeholders.  As well, we have all seen that the media is joining our push to get MIECHV reauthorization done.

One of the areas of dialogue that has opened up traction is the opioid epidemic.  Simply stated, lawmakers are being challenged to demonstrate their commitment to combat the national opioid addiction crisis.  The immediate renewal of MIECHV for 5 years would be a fruitful and effective starting point.

Accordingly, we have prepared a brief on the correlation of the MIECHV program and opioid addiction/substance abuse prevention.  The following is an excerpt of that brief:“The opioid crisis in our country is quickly spiraling out of control.  This is mainly due to a disconnection between the science of addiction and the treatment of addiction.  The medical field has identified addiction as a disease and developed drugs to aid in “kicking the habit” but treatment of the disease has not been effectively implemented as a health crisis. In many cases, proper attention has not been given to early detection and the behavioral implications of the addiction cycle.

For the most part, programs and efforts designed to reduce opioid addiction in the United States have largely focused on providing individuals with drug replacement therapy.  Simply swapping out an addicted individual’s drug of choice for an alternative, without the proper corresponding behavioral treatment, has not only proven ineffective in the preventing substance abuse, but has likely contributed to the opioid addiction epidemic.  While traditional approaches may have contributed to the current epidemic, MIECHV, through the implementation of its built-in benchmark and underlying constructs, has quietly and steadily been addressing the illicit drug and substance abuse crisis through maternal and infant health programming with demonstrated reductions in illicit drug use amongst families served.

In addition, reauthorizing the MIECHV program for 5 years with bolstered resources, could prove to be a serious step toward tackling the opioid epidemic.  This is attainable due to the outcome measurements that are embedded in the MIECHV design.  These are known as the benchmark area constructs (constructs) which are used to both guide home visiting models and to evaluate their effectiveness.  The constructs tie MIECHV to evidence based behavioral treatments for substance abuse.  This is done by including elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing (MI) in the constructs Read More…

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