Various news outlets are reporting new statistics which indicate deaths from opioid overdose are beginning to go down.
The Associated Press reports that for the first time in a decade overdoses among New York residents (outside of NYC) have declined 15.9%. Government officials are quoted as saying that about 80% of the overdose deaths were attributable to heroin or fentanyl.
The AP cited a new CDC (Centers For Disease Control) July 2019 study which showed overdose deaths in 2018 fell for the first time in nearly three decades.
Various public education efforts and New York’s Opioid Task Force are thought to be significant catalysts for the slowdown in opioid overdoses. The availability of naloxone has also been highly instrumental in impacting overdoses nationwide with many communities across the country now providing naloxone kits for free.
A number of metro areas in the U.S. are also examining the feasibility of mobile opioid treatment since transportation to clinics or physicians is often an impediment to accessing medication-assisted treatment resources.
Behavioral Health Group (BHG) currently provides 58 top flight opioid addiction treatment centers in the United States. The company specializes in medication-assisted treatment using methadone, buprenorphine, and buprenorphine/naloxone.
BHG takes a patient-centered approach to treating addictive disorders offering counseling as a fundamental component of the overall treatment model. Because of this individualized treatment approach, 97% of patients surveyed indicate they would recommend BHG Recovery to a friend or family member suffering from opioid addiction.
Additionally, 99% of patients report that their mental health and quality of life improved since their BHG admission. 60% of unemployed patients were able to obtain employment after one year of treatment.
Hope, Respect, and Caring are tenets of BHG’s treatment program, and their staff strive to provide this from the moment a patient first walks in to receive help. All of BHG’s treatment centers provide care in an outpatient setting.
In 2019 and 2020, BHG Recovery added (10) additional U.S. clinics to the Methadone.US national directory list …
1. Franklin, VA – BHG Franklin Treatment Center
2. Chesapeake, VA – BHG Chesapeake South Treatment Center
3. Glen Allen, VA – BHG Glen Allen Treatment Center
4. Mobile, AL – BHG Mobile Treatment Center
5. Cullman, AL – BHG Cullman Treatment Center
6. Washington, DC – BHG Washington DC Treatment Center
7. Colorado Springs, CO – BHG Colorado Springs Treatment Center
8. Grand Bay, AL – BHG Grand Bay Treatment Center
9. North Little Rock, AR – BHG North Little Rock Treatment Center
10. Savannah, TN – BHG Savannah Treatment Center
Recovery from opioid addiction initially centers around physical stabilization: specifically the management of opioid withdrawal. This is an essential step for the vast majority of opioid addicted people seeking help. Research has shown a 90% failure rate for opioid treatment programs that do not offer medication assistance.
Methadone was the original medication FDA-approved for treating opioid addiction although Subutex has been recently introduced into opioid treatment programs around the country as a viable alternative. Subutex is effective especially for milder levels of opioid dependency.
Subutex is a brand name version of buprenorphine, the partial opioid agonist that reduces withdrawal symptom sickness. Most patients are familiar with “Suboxone” which is a popular buprenorphine-based film that is dissolved under the tongue and is taken once per day. It differs from Subutex in that it contains naloxone so that it cannot be easily abused intravenously.
A number of methadone clinics began offering subutex in the past few years in an effort to expand treatment options for patients. Because subutex can be abused, it is typically administered daily in the clinic by a nurse where it can be supervised.
If you are considering entering a treatment program for opioid misuse, you may want to ask about the variety of medications utilized by the clinic or physician. Some patients have successfully transitioned from methadone to subutex while others enter the program starting with subutex. This is a decision best made in conjunction with your treating doctor who can formulate a treatment plan based on your history of opioid use.
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.