Category Archives: Addiction Treatment

Shifting Tide Favors Medication in Opioid Treatment

The nation’s opioid epidemic has reached fever pitch and is now being spotlighted by all levels of local and national media. This is obviously good news.

At the center of this discussion is what can be done to reduce opioid fatalities, and to provide addicted people a real opportunity to regain control over their lives. This discussion inevitably leads to examining the benefit of medication-assisted treatment.

Methadone, buprenorphine, and naloxone are the three leading alternatives for helping patients deal with the perpetual withdrawal sickness that comes from a physiological dependency on opioids.

In recent congressional testimony to members of Congress, Scott Gottlieb (Commissioner of the FDA) specifically heralded the life-saving benefits of methadone and similar medications.

His testimony included comments on the wealth of information behind the effectiveness of medication-assisted treatment. It is vitally important that legislative decision-makers obtain a clear understanding about what works and what does not in regard to coping successfully with this opioid crisis.

Time is of the essence because the present overdose fatality rate in the United States is over 64,000 per year. This number is beyond alarming. Here is an article that points to a possible positive shift in communities’ openness to having local opioid treatment nearby. Hopefully, this becomes a trend.

Methadone Availability

Imagine trying to medically manage advanced diabetes with no insulin or grand mal seizures without anticonvulsant medication.

Modern medicine has raised our standard of living and sustained life in ways that people could not have imagined just 100 years ago.

In the cases cited above of diabetes and epilepsy, medication functions as a miracle intervention that saves the patient from suffering and death, and allows him or her to lead a full and productive life.

Science is clearly instructing us that addiction is a treatable illness which can at times be successfully managed with medication assistance, similar to the stabilizing role that insulin plays in the life of the diabetic patient.

A critical element of opioid addiction is the physical dependency which leads to debilitating opioid withdrawal symptoms. For many individuals, the persistence and severity of opioid withdrawal leads them to chronic failure in any effort to recover. With the assistance of methadone (or buprenorphine), many of these people will finally be able to cope with their illness by having their withdrawal symptoms alleviated.

The value of relief from opioid withdrawal is monumental. It is often the first major step toward being able to face one’s addiction. Medication assistance is good science, and it opens a door that was likely closed for many years. The value of having a new start is priceless. We only have one life. It is worth saving. Whether it’s diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease, or addiction – specific medications can help a patient restore their quality of life.

21st Century Cures Act

opioid-treatment-fundingThe U.S. House of Representatives just passed a sweeping reform, called the 21st Century Cures Act, that will infuse $1 billion in new funding earmarked for opioid treatment and prevention services.

It has taken several years of alarming statistics on the national opioid epidemic, but Congress has responded. This USA Today article provides an overview of the numbers. In addition to the $1 billion for opioid services will be another $4.8 billion for cutting-edge research around treating Alzheimers, cancer, traumatic brain injury, and other medical issues.

The bill received enormous bipartisan support and passed 392-to-26. In 2016, death by drug overdose surpassed death by car crashes and gun fatalities. The public outcry for government intervention has been steady. With so many families having been affected by addiction issues, the new funding allowance should open doors for opioid treatment particularly in rural areas where opioid services have been severely lacking.

Methadone remains the #1 medication-assisted treatment option. Buprenorphine medications are; however, making a big impact in the treatment field with a wide variety of buprenorphine-based formulations coming to market. In addition to the familiar suboxone film, are probuphine (a buprenorphine implant), subutex (an uncoated buprenorphine tablet), and bunavail.

Methadone Clinic North Dakota

methadone north dakotaIt was announced in June that North Dakota would be receiving its first methadone clinic. North Dakota and Wyoming are the only two states in the U.S. that have yet to provide a methadone treatment program for opioid addiction.

The region has suffered in recent years with an increase in the use of heroin and fentanyl, and with associated opioid overdoses. Kurt Snyder is the Executive Director of the new clinic, Heartview Foundation. Mr. Snyder echoed the research-based evidence showing that medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction provides superior results to abstinence-only treatment interventions.

In the article linked above from The Jamestown Sun, a local police detective indicated that the addiction problem had recently worsened in North Dakota as a result of the price of drugs dropping.

The Heartview Foundation clinic will also offer buprenorphine and naloxone in addition to methadone thus providing a more complete range of medication assisted therapies. Therapeutic counseling and mental health treatment will be a component of the Heartview program as well as drug testing.

Of particular benefit too is the recent initiative in North Dakota that will allow pharmacists the ability to prescribe naloxone so that opioid overdoses can hopefully be greatly reduced. The ready accessibility of naloxone is receiving a nationwide push as communities struggle to address overdose concerns.

Methadone.US welcomes a new addition to the featured clinics here on the site with the listing of BrookStone Medical Center in St. George, Utah.

Expanding Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment

opioid-treatment-in-mediaAn article in the Huffington Post recently addressed President Obama’s public comments on expanding access to opioid treatment, particularly medication-assisted treatment (MAT) like methadone or buprenorphine (suboxone).

Many members of the treatment industry and recovery community do not have a realistic grasp on the role that medication-assisted treatment can play in recovery from severe opioid addiction. Historically, the recovery community has not regarded those utilizing methadone or suboxone as truly in recovery. They emphasize total abstinence, even from methadone, despite the fact that methadone and buprenorphine have restored individuals to normal functioning and even saved lives in many cases.

There was a time some years ago, in the 12 step community, when individuals were chastised for taking psychotropic medication for depression or other mental health disorders. This criticism came from a fundamental lack of knowledge about the biological basis for many mental health disorders. Similarly, medication-assisted treatment interventions have been the subject of misunderstanding and unwarranted rejection by those with limited education on varied treatment approaches.

As America’s opioid problem continues to grow, we need real solutions rooted in medical science and research. At this point in time, medication-assisted treatment has been in use long enough to clearly demonstrate its usefulness in facilitating personal recovery from addiction.

In 2015, we saw numerous local and national political figures rally around families that have been impacted by heroin overdoses and the heartbreaking loss of loved ones. Opioid addiction has finally come into focus within the mainstream media, and even current Presidential candidates have begun to address this as an important issue which commands attention and a solution.

More: Question and Answers on how methadone works