Category Archives: Buprenorphine

Opioid Use Disorder A Modern Reality

Opioid Use Disorder is the newer clinical terminology (from the DSM5) used to describe the full range of opioid problems ranging from mild opioid-related use issues to severe opioid addiction.

The CDC reports that in 2017 there were 72,287 deaths from overdose in the United States. That is certainly an alarming statistic. Of that number, 49,060 of those deaths were from opioids specifically – just in 2017. By contrast, there were 58,200 U.S. fatalities that resulted from the entire Vietnam war.

The good news is that government funding for opioid treatment is finally entering the stream on a local level. Increasing numbers of methadone clinics and physicians authorized to prescribe buprenorphine are moving into America’s more rural areas, ones that have historically been severely underserved.

As treatment for Opioid Use Disorder becomes more readily available, people struggling under the constant pressure of addiction will have an opportunity to apply the brake, and to veer onto a new path of stability and recovery. That being said, it is estimated that presently only 1 person of 10 with an opioid use disorder has sought treatment. For many opioid addicted people, treatment made the difference between life and death.

Choose a new path is more than words for those that have truly done so. Addiction is a highly persistent disease, but change is possible. Commitment and action are the necessary ingredients in opening the door to a new life. Opioid Use Disorder, in particular, is successfully treated with medication assistance. Science, research, and life experience have fortunately reinforced this fact with perfect clarity. Please find a local treatment provider today!

Billions To Be Allocated In Fight Against Opioid Crisis

The national budget proposal for the 2019 fiscal year includes a request for $13 billion in funding for opioid treatment and related services. This linked Newsweek article states that $3 billion would be allocated in 2018 and another $10 billion in 2019.

Many opioid treatment programs across the country are currently able to add patient slots when additional funding is made available. The opioid crisis has flooded many clinics that are already at maximum census due to limited State and Medicaid funding.

A number of private pay clinics have opened in recent years as the need for medication-assisted treatment increased. If a substantial allocation of government funds becomes available, opioid treatment services will finally come into sharp national focus as scores of people finally obtain the help they need to stabilize and to recover.

In treating opioid addiction, research has shown that traditional abstinence-based programs which do not utilize medication assistance have a failure rate of 90%. Medication-assistance is a critical factor in helping opioid addicted people move into sustained recovery. The proposed $13 billion earmarked for opioid treatment services can make a huge difference all across the U.S. Methadone or buprenorphine (suboxone) coupled with counseling and drug testing comprise the gold standard of care in treating opioid addiction.

Opioid Treatment Making A Difference

There is a great article in the Bismarck Tribune about the expansion of methadone services in Fargo, North Dakota. Fargo, like most other areas of the country, was impacted in recent years by numerous opioid-related overdose deaths.

The article reports that Cass County had 31 overdose deaths in 2016, but that number was reduced to 15 in 2017, due in part to the increased availability of naloxone (the medication that reverses opioid overdose).

While local ambulance calls have decreased in relation to opioid overdoses, the problem of opioid addiction remains a widespread and primary concern in the community.

The Tribune story reveals that more local residents are now enrolled in opioid treatment and are receiving the life-saving medication, methadone. Treatment that combines medication-assistance and counseling is the industry standard in quality care for those addicted to opioids.

The new Fargo-based clinic is reported to have 164 active patients currently enrolled in the methadone program. The clinic director, Mark Schaefer, is quoted as saying that while enrollment has been rapid, there remain many people in the local area with untreated opioid addiction.

The availability of treatment is making a difference. And medications like methadone, buprenorphine, and naloxone are providing a much needed solution to America’s opioid crisis.

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 and buprenorphine are the two leading alternatives for helping patients deal with the perpetual withdrawal sickness that comes from a physiological dependency on opioids. Naloxone is a medication used to reverse opioid overdose.

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.

Achieving Stability in the Recovery Process

Opioid addiction is one of the more challenging substance use disorders to confront and manage because of its physical dependency characteristics. Once the process of physical addiction has taken hold, avoiding daily withdrawal becomes a high hurdle.

Because of this daily dilemma, it becomes difficult to remain focused on other aspects of recovery. It’s the law of “first things first” that applies when tackling any problem. There is a natural order and sequence which must be followed when trying to solve a complex task. Opioid addiction recovery is no exception.

Obtaining relief from opioid withdrawal symptoms is a very important first step in addressing opioid addiction. This is why medication-assisted treatment is specifically identified as a medical best practice. Science and years of exhaustive research have proven (not just suggested) that treatment coupled with medication-assistance offers the greatest probability of long-term success when trying to overcome moderate to severe opioid addiction.

Fortunately, more people are becoming aware of the need for buprenorphine, methadone, and other medications that can play a vital role in stabilizing an opioid addicted individual at the onset of their personal recovery.

Historically, efforts to come off of opioids in a detox setting have been often unsuccessful because many detoxes used insufficient medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Consequently, patients would typically begin to get sick in 1-2 days with their withdrawal symptoms becoming intolerable. This can lead to patients abandoning the detox effort and a quick return to illicit opiates.

However, the tide is turning. As the American opioid crisis continues to impact families and U.S. society, many more physicians, lawmakers, and government representatives are gaining a quick education on the enormous value of medication-assisted treatment. Methadone is at the forefront of this new awareness as is buprenorphine-based products like Suboxone.

Appropriate medications used responsibly and under a doctor’s supervision provide stability, hope, and opportunity.