Sarah Wakeman: Treating Patients With Substance Use Disorders & the Opioid Crisis

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Today we are joined by Sarah Wakeman to talk about substance use disorders, one of the most pressing public health issues of our time. Sarah is the Medical Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Substance Use Disorder Initiative. She designs systems of care that draw on the strengths of communities to care for patients and residents with addictions. Sarah also practices in the Adult Medicine Department of the MGH Charlestown HealthCare Center.

We talk about the importance of language and discourse on the care for patients with substance use disorders (4:00), how an approach of compassion has proven more effective than the popularized tough love style (7:30) and how rewarding it can be to witness a patient have a Lazarus moment (10:00) in a journey to recovery. We also talk about the very real challenges of caring for this patient population (13:00), the complexities and power dynamics of monitoring (16:15), and what needs to be done to turn around the epidemic (20:45).

You can find the landmark report on the opioid epidemic from our Surgeon General Vivek Murthy here, which is full of helpful information on this topic.

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