Using a multi-pronged approach to fight substance use disorder

Published March 11, 2020

In 2018, South Carolina recorded 816 opioid related overdose deaths*.  BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina (BCBSSC) is taking action to support, educate and treat those addicted to opioids as well as babies suffering withdrawal symptoms at birth.

Video series explores addiction

Recently, BCBSSC launched a new 3-part video series for social media entitled Perspectives. The videos explore in-depth, first person accounts about the impacts of addiction from the perspectives of a first responder, a physician and a patient.  The purpose is to engage the community with personal stories on social media platforms as a way to encourage those fighting addiction to seek help.   

Multipronged approach to fight substance use disorder

Fighting the opioid epidemic requires a multi-pronged approach.  Awareness alone cannot reduce the number of deaths. Prescription opioids were involved in more than 35% of all opioid-related deaths in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

To that end, BCBSSC is also using a multi-pronged effort to address education, support and research through a series of strategic community partnerships. 

Here are just a few examples of efforts underway:

  • Prescription reduction
    In 2018, BCBSSC joined South Carolina hospital association and South Carolina Medical Association as members of the Opioid Risk Prevention Partnership (ORPP) to advance conversation among healthcare providers and the public around the issues of pain and the appropriate use of alternatives to opioids in pain management.  
  • Treatment
    Along with changes to opioid prescription limits, BCBS SC has focused on expanding in-network options for medication assisted treatment (MAT), which is often a preferred treatment for opioid use disorder. This access supports BCBSSC members who want to stop taking opioids. 
  • Emergency response 
    BCBSSC participates in the Governor’s Opioid Emergency Response Team, which is an ongoing collaborative effort of state and local agencies with expertise in substance use disorders and treatment, public health and medical affairs, emergency response and planning, as well as law enforcement coordination and strategy.
  • Research
    BCBSSC foundation awarded a 2-year grant to support research on the impact of opioids statewide. The grant will enable the implementation of the State Opioid Response Data Improvement Project by improving quality of data collected on substance use treatment and recovery services.  The grant will also track patient treatment and recovery progress.
  • Education
    BCBSSC is providing $50,000 of funding to McLeod Children’s Hospital in Florence to support hospital education efforts and funding of a nurse educator position to engage with mothers whose babies are suffering from withdrawal. 

On a national level, a Blue Cross and Blue Shield, The Health of America Report®* revealed that opioid prescriptions have dropped by 29% among Blue Cross and Blue Shield members, while diagnoses of opioid use disorder — an indication that a patient is dangerously dependent on the painkillers — declined slightly in 2017, the first drop in the eight years the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association has measured the impact of the opioid crisis on its members nationwide.

*South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control 
BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information about the array of programs and services BCBS SC offers is doing to curb the opioid epidemic in South Carolina, click HERE