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Stories > All Unshame CA > Dr. Christina is Changing her Community Through Education and Compassion

Dr. Christina is Changing her Community Through Education and Compassion

Dr. Christina talks about what she has learned about opioid use disorder (OUD) and medications that can treat OUD. She now takes her learnings to share with family doctors in her residency program.
Dr. Christina
Dr. Christina

Dr. Christina spent 12 years serving the people of King City, California as a family doctor, where she saw a lot of patients with chronic pain. Back then, it was common practice within the medical community to prescribe opioids to those patients. But as cases of opioid use disorder (OUD) increased in California, Dr. Christina dug deeper. “Over time, it became a question that I had: What happens to these people?” She dedicated herself to learning ways to treat OUD in the families she served—and to teaching other family doctors those methods.

Stigma has prevented many Californians from getting the care they need to treat their opioid use disorder (OUD), a medical condition that can develop because of genetics, traumatic experiences, or both. Dr. Christina explains the misinformation that has fueled that. “We had always been taught that if they come back asking for more, they should be disregarded or discharged from the practice,” she says. Today, she and other California doctors are working to change that by prescribing medication for opioid use disorder, or MOUD, to help treat OUD.

“We have a medication, buprenorphine, that can be given to patients who can’t seem to get off their pain meds. In fact, these patients have developed use disorders. It’s a medical condition and it’s something we need to treat as doctors.” Now, she’s training the next generation of doctors to support patients with tools like MOUD—and compassion. “Be curious. Ask in a non-judgmental way. The more you hear the stories of these folks,” Dr. Christina says, “The more you will see that they’re just like you.”

Dr. Christina and family doctors throughout California are increasingly equipped with effective tools to help people with OUD recover.

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