By Chris Adams

In the midst of the opioids epidemic sweeping the country, there are some signs of hope.

“There has been some progress, and that’s encouraging,” said Dr. Marc Fishman, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and medical director of Maryland Treatment Centers. “More and more people are waking up and smelling the coffee.”

At the same time, some of the response has been counter-productive, he said. “The response to restrict prescribing of opioids by doctors has gone over the top,” he said.

In a session with National Press Foundation fellows, Fishman went through the latest thinking on treatment, touching on areas of success and areas where more needs to be done.

Among the successes: New medication technology is promising, such as having a long-acting version of buprenorphine.

What still needs to be done: the continuum of care is still “woefully under-resourced and under-developed – there isn’t enough capacity for treatment.” Retention in treatment is still terrible. “People drop in and drop out,” he said. “It’s hard to keep patients in care.”

Bottom line, he said: The nation is at a crossroads. There is a proven set of both old and new tools – but “alarmingly poor level of dissemination and adoption” as well as a lack of coherent deployment.

“We have an obligation to do better,” he said.