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.
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.
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.
Posted in Addiction Recovery, Buprenorphine, Medication Assisted Treatment, Methadone Clinics, Methadone Maintenance, Opiate Addiction, Recovery, Recovery Support, Relapse Prevention, Suboxone, Suboxone Clinics, Suboxone Physicians
Tagged medication-assistance, relapse prevention
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.
The 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.
Posted in Addiction Treatment, Buprenorphine, Drug Treatment, Medication Assisted Treatment, Methadone, Methadone Clinics, Methadone Maintenance, Naloxone, Naltrexone, Opiate Treatment, Suboxone
Tagged drug legislation, drug treatment funding, opioid treatment