Suboxone is medically approved to treat opioid addiction and withdrawal in the United States, and opioid replacement therapy is a documented, evidence-based best practice. That being said, the city council of Bangor, Maine voted 7-2 against the expansion of opioid treatment services in Bangor that would allow existing treatment programs to offer additional Suboxone (buprenorphine) services to addicted people seeking treatment.
Council members were quoted as saying that Bangor had done more than its fair share of helping the addicted population, referencing the fact that many people travel from outside the area to participate in one of Bangor’s three opioid treatment programs.
This moratorium on expanding Suboxone will leave many to struggle with their severe addictions while viable opioid treatment services could be made available to help them. However, the Council wanted more time to consider whether the expansion of opioid treatment would be a good idea for the city. The temporary ban generated considerable dissension once again showcasing that fear & judgment are still barriers to treating people suffering with addictive disorders.
Progress has most definitely been made over many years with the nationwide adoption of opioid replacement therapy. Nonetheless, people continue to fear and judge those things which they do not understand. Simply put, this is human nature. I reflect on past years in which family members and other non-treatment professionals came to visit our facilities, became acquainted with our staff, and gained a real understanding as to what treatment is about.
Consistently, nearly all of these individuals experienced a change of heart and a new understanding. Some of them never considered that addiction would affect their family. Understanding addiction is something that a majority of individuals may not care to understand … until they have to. This, too, is human nature.
In any event, progress often has a way of moving forward despite impediments and naysayer opposition. If the need is there, then energy will collect and eventually be channeled toward fulfilling that need. Suboxone and methadone are such excellent medications when used appropriately. They meet an important need. It’s sad to say, but sometimes a problem has to “hit home” before a person comes to a new understanding.
The five Bangor Council members that voted against expanding Suboxone may have never faced addiction, or the loss of a loved one, or the desperate fear & pain that an addict lives with after years of being sick. One can’t help but question the motivations and “critical thinking” of people who would vote against modern medicine and saving lives. Progress will continue, but closed minds must first be opened.