Category Archives: Addiction Treatment

Treating Opioid Addiction

The science of treating opioid addiction has become increasingly popular in both medical circles and in the addiction treatment community.

For decades, medical professionals and even popular recovery organizations did not quite understand how giving an opioid addict a replacement medication could actually facilitate recovery.

Part of the dilemma was that those who defined “recovery” did so using an old school philosophical approach originally crafted for alcoholism. But science has taught us that not all addictions are exactly the same. While there are certainly commonalities between the various substance use disorders, there are very important distinctions and differences which affect the recovery process.

You cannot prescribe a medication that is effective with depression, and expect that same medication to resolve schizophrenia or an anxiety disorder. While they are all mental health disorders that can debilitate a patient, there are critical differences between these disorders and in the overall treatment plan for addressing each one.

Similarly with addiction, science is teaching us that a one-size-fits-all approach to addiction recovery is detrimental and often unproductive.

With opioid addiction in particular, the disease progression is quite unlike most other addictive illnesses. While the medical profession has evolved that understanding, the recovery community and general society has at times struggled to comprehend the necessity of medication-assisted treatment for the opioid addicted.

Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, PA’s, Nurses, and Counselors all play a part in educating patients, their families, the community, and government on the key role that medication plays in the successful management of an opioid use disorder. Methadone, subutex, suboxone, vivitrol, and other medication choices make the difference between recovery success and repeated recovery failures.

Youth and Opioid Addiction

In past decades, opioid addiction was skewed more heavily toward an older generation of adults. But today we have larger numbers of youth using opioids and experiencing addiction-related problems at earlier ages. Importantly, research has demonstrated conclusively that those who remain engaged in treatment for six months or more are much more likely to stabilize and to enjoy sustained success with recovery.

A recent Reuters Health article highlights the fact that many opioid-addicted youth are either not yet engaging in treatment or are exiting treatment too early. While more youth are being saved through the overdose reversal drug naloxone, a majority of addicted youth are still not receiving medicated-assisted treatments such as buprenorphine or methadone.

More work is necessary to open up treatment avenues for young adults across America, and to both educate & compel youth to seek MAT (medication-assisted treatment) as soon as possible.

The opioid addiction problem in America will not soon disappear. Drugs continue to find their way across the U.S. border through multiple avenues. Positive efforts are indeed bringing needed change, but the complexity and extent of opioid addiction in the U.S. will require a long-term, sustained commitment throughout the country. We must get the message out – especially to young people who may not fully grasp the power of addiction!

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!

ADAPT Pharma Provides Free Narcan to Colleges

A Presidential briefing on March 19, 2018 in Manchester, NH was used to announce that ADAPT Pharma has volunteered to provide, for free, the life-saving medication NARCAN® to all U.S. high schools, colleges and universities.

NARCAN® is a name brand overdose antidote (based on naloxone) that restores breathing and consciousness in opioid overdose victims typically within five minutes.

ADAPT Pharma offers a 40% discount off wholesale pricing on the Narcan nasal spray to Law Enforcement agencies and Firefighters as well as non-profit community based organizations.

Seamus Mulligan, CEO of ADAPT, commented in a company press release that ADAPT is committed to raising awareness of opioid overdose risks and distributing NARCAN® widely so that it will be available to bystanders and emergency personnel who can offer immediate help in the event of a crisis.

What Is Naltrexone

Naltrexone is an opioid treatment medication that works very differently than either methadone or buprenorphine.

Naltrexone functions as an opioid blocker that interferes with the euphoric effects of opiates. Unlike methadone, naltrexone does not eliminate opioid withdrawal. So it is typically only begun following a successful period of opioid detoxification.

Naltrexone is taken as a pill or as a time-released injectable. It blocks the feeling of getting high thus deterring a person from continuing in active drug use with opioids. If there’s no pay off for using, why do it?

Some individuals who don’t necessarily require methadone or buprenorphine can effectively utilize naltrexone as a component of their recovery program. Vivitrol is the time-released, branded version of naltrexone that is taken once monthly as an injection. With Vivitrol, the naltrexone remains active in the bloodstream for 30 days and blocks the effects of heroin or other opiate use. This reinforces one’s focus on recovery choices and can reduce opioid cravings.

Patients receiving naltrexone may develop a lowered tolerance to opioids over time, and should remain aware of the risk of opioid overdose should they relapse. The medication is also used in the treatment of alcohol dependency and has been shown to reduce the euphoric effects of alcohol consumption.

Naltrexone is not to be confused with Naloxone. Naloxone is the opioid overdose reversal medication that has recently been in the news for saving thousands of lives across the country.