Professor to moderate congressional briefing on opioid dependence, addiction

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Diana Fishbein, professor of human development and family studies and director of the Program of Translational Research on Adversity Neurodevelopment in the Prevention Research Center at Penn State, is co-organizing and moderating the congressional briefing, “The Real Dangers of Equating Opioid Dependence with Addiction,” at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 19 at the U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center in Washington, D.C.

The National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives (NPSC), of which Fishbein is founder and co-director, and the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus (ATR), are co-sponsoring the briefing with internationally recognized experts to discuss the dual challenges of addiction and dependence in developing policy responses to the opioid epidemic.

The briefing will address the significant policy implications of the difference between addiction and dependence and what that means for ensuring that patients’ differential needs are met.

“Although many people equate addiction and dependence, they are not the same, and the distinction has important implications for the millions of people who legitimately rely on opioid medications for pain management,” said Fishbein, who will be hosting her 20th congressional briefing.

Patients who are prescribed opioids to manage their chronic pain needs include veterans, ex-athletes, accident victims, and those with disabilities or suffering from diseases such as cancer.

“We need to get rid of stigma surrounding opioids, as some people need them to effectively manage their pain,” Fishbein said. “Proper screening, appropriate prescribing, and careful monitoring can prevent the escalation from dependence to addiction.”

The briefing will bring lawmakers, regulators, physicians, scientists and the public into this critical conversation. Although prescribing and monitoring are largely a physician-based undertaking, state and federal governments play a role in providing regulatory oversight and legislative guidance that support the evidence-based initiatives.

“It is imperative that we ensure pain patients who could benefit from opioid analgesics do not suffer unintended consequences of policies aimed at restricting access to these medications when their use is appropriate,” Fishbein said. “Our goal is to educate policy makers and communicate what is a field consensus regarding what the research is showing, so that policy decisions can be based on sound science.”

The briefing is being co-organized by John Roman, senior fellow at the National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago. Presenters include Nora Volkow, director, National Institute on Drug Abuse; Susan Glod, associate professor of medicine, Penn State College of Medicine; Dr. Joshua D. Lee, director of addiction medicine fellowship and associate professor of population health and medicine and general internal medicine and clinical innovation, New York University School of Medicine; and Phillip W. Graham, director, Center on Social Determinants, Risk Behaviors, and Prevention Science, RTI International.

The NPSC is a nonprofit organization of scientists, educators, practitioners and clinicians, policy makers, foundation representatives and national affiliates whose members work to apply validated scientific findings to wide-scale effective implementation of practices and policies to improve the lives of children, adolescents, their families and communities.

This story originally appeared in Penn State News.