NFA Main senior discusses research with 3 NYS Senators
Main senior, Supriya Makam gave testimony at a forum organized by the state’s Joint Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, co-chaired by Senators George Amedore, Fred Akshar and Chris Jacobs on Tuesday, November 14th, hosted by Senator William J. Larkin at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center
The task force will use testimony and recommendations from local officials, providers, addicts and family members to propose new legislation in response to a growing addiction and overdose problem described as an epidemic and a crisis.
NFA Senior, Supriya Makam has been shadowing a doctor at the Center for Recovery in Newburgh to learn more about opioid treatment and to be able to observe patients in rehabilitation.
“I view the Center as a battleground where drug-dependent patients fight to survive and regain control of their lives. These people have lost jobs, homes, and even children to their addiction. Observing patients and classmates struggle through the mental challenges of treatment has motivated me to help them. Witnessing the grim struggles of those seeking rehabilitation, I now see these patients beyond the stigmas surrounding them, their physical appearances, and their backgrounds. I see their willpower and determination to achieve complete recovery.” Supriya Makam, Senior at Newburgh Free Academy.
The objective of Ms. Makam’s research was to analyze the accessibility and utilization of Suboxone to treat opioid dependence in Orange County, New York.
Ms. Makam created two survey instruments, one for Suboxone providers and one for non-Suboxone providers. Questions in the survey include social stigmas among doctors and patients relating to Suboxone, insurance coverage problems for patients, impediments of treating Suboxone patients, and methods to motivate physicians to treat more Suboxone patients.
Her goal: to study the availability of Suboxone, an addiction medication that blocks heroin and opioid withdrawal and cravings for the drugs.
“In Orange County there are over 1,000 physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, but only about 25 to 30 suboxone providers,” Makam told a trio of state senators on Tuesday morning.
“Recommendations made by the local physicians for treating the current opioid epidemic include the following: more police enforcement of street drug dealers, patient education of narcotic misuse, physician education of both the opioid epidemic and patient treatment, and expanding access to rehabilitation and care for these patients. Some conclusions drawn from the research: it is clear that providers should be in major treatment facilities instead of in small private practices, as these providers would be less affected by the insurance coverage problems of Suboxone. Next, there needs to be more awareness and education for doctors on this issue.Making the 8-hour certification course free online, or even decreasing the required course hours may encourage more providers to take the course. Finally, it is necessary to destigmatize the use of Suboxone by having national, state, and local county societies emphasize that it is a necessary medical practice.” Supriya Makam, Senior at Newburgh Free Academy speaks as a result of her research at the Center for Recovery in Newburgh.
A total of twenty-three speakers spoke about the topic. Speakers included members of health organizations ranging from behavioral and mental health to physical health, organizations that offer support services such as Catholic Charities, Team Newburgh, and Center for Recovery, individuals and family members of recovering addicts, the Orange County District Attorney, Orange County Executive, a Supervisory Senior Resident Agent from the FBI, and the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the DEA.
Supriya Makam is one of two National Merit Scholarship Corp Semi- Finalists from NFA Main.