Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia - 8

Dr. Blackhall stresses that it is possible to use opioids safely and responsibly, so that cancer patients can live
full lives. "It is harder to prescribe with
appropriate safety measures in place.
It's time-consuming but quite doable,"
she says. The safety measures adopted
at UVA include screening patients for
addiction risk, teaching them how to
manage the drugs appropriately (adhering to prescribed dose, storing in a
secure environment, etc.) and encouraging them to communicate openly with
their physician. "Most patients just need
a little oversight and teaching to keep
themselves and their family safe," says
Dr. Blackhall.
Even for those patients who struggle
with addiction, Dr. Blackhall says there
are measures in place to ensure they do
not have to suffer. Social workers help
them take steps to overcome their dependency, and alternative pain relief, including meditation, physical therapy and
other medications, is readily available. In
severe cases of chronic pain, precautions
can be taken to provide these patients
the relief that opioid drugs provide. "We
can give one fentanyl patch at a time or
one pill at a time," says Dr. Blackhall.
"It's rare that we would need to do that,
but it is possible."

Raising AWARENESS

One of the keys to success in any battle
is knowing what you are up against.
UVA researchers are involved in multiple studies that will provide policymakers with a clearer picture of the true
impact of opioid misuse. For example,
aside from the obvious opioid risks of
addiction and overdose deaths, UVA is
shedding light on the potential for the
spread of infectious diseases caused by
the increase in intravenous drug use.
"We've seen a significant increase
in the number of hepatitis C cases,
especially among 18- to 30-year-olds,
and UVA infectious diseases fellow Dr.
Megan Gray's work demonstrates that
there's been a sevenfold increase over

8

SP RIN G 2 0 1 8

the past 15 years in heart valve disease
related to injectable drug use," says
Dr. McManus.
"UVA infectious disease specialists, such as Dr. Gray and Dr. Rebecca
Dillingham, are leading efforts to
capture information on drug use and
related infections at UVA and collaborating with partners across the
Commonwealth to look at these issues
statewide," she explains. "We can then
share this data with policymakers and
give communities an idea of exactly
what they're dealing with."

Expanding OUR EFFORTS
The scope of the opioid crisis is
immense, and unfortunately there's no
single solution. But UVA is tackling this
complex problem on multiple fronts
and is looking ahead to determine what
more it can do as an organization to
turn the tide. "We are looking at ways
we might expand our addiction services in the primary care setting. In the
meantime, we are strengthening our
relationship with community resources
so that we can easily refer patients who
need addiction support," says Dr. Hoke.
"We also may have the opportunity to
train more doctors interested in addiction medicine. The priority is to determine where we might have the greatest
impact for our community." ■
WEBSITE

Find Help
The Community Mental Health
and Wellness Coalition is
partnering with UVA to open
the lines of communication and
encourage idea sharing among
those committed to ending the
opioid epidemic. Learn more
about the coalition and find
substance abuse services at
helphappenshere.org.

JOINING
FORCES
To adequately address the opioid crisis,
UVA Health System is partnering with
organizations on the front lines in the
battle against substance abuse. One
key partner is the Community Mental
Health and Wellness Coalition, made
up of more than 20 Charlottesville-area
organizations, including the Region Ten
Community Services Board and the
Thomas Jefferson Health District. "We all
share responsibility in this crisis, and we're
committed to addressing it together," says
UVA Health System Community Relations
Lead Elizabeth Beasley.
This coalition is developing immediate
and long-term strategies to:
REDUCE THE STIGMA surrounding
mental health issues and substance
abuse through information sharing and
outreach
IMPROVE ACCESS to mental health
and addiction services by securing
additional resources
DECREASE DEADLY OVERDOSES
and misuse of opioid medications by
adopting practical strategies to dispose
of drugs appropriately, increase the
number of sites distributing a drug used
to treat an opioid emergency, and more
Coalition members and community leaders, as well as experts in law, health policy,
public health and medicine, came together
last fall at a conference hosted by the UVA
Center for Global Health, the Center for
Global Inquiry & Innovation and the Center
for Health Policy. The two-day conference
focused on successful strategies from
around the U.S. and Canada.
"Opioid misuse is a difficult issue, with
many different causes and many consequences, so there is no single solution,"
says UVA infectious disease specialist
Kathleen McManus, MD. "This conference allowed us to hear from leaders
who have adopted innovative strategies
that are working and to help position
Charlottesville and UVA as committed
partners in this effort."


http://www.helphappenshere.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia

Contents
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia - Contents
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia - 2
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Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover3
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