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.
Methadone programs and doctors who prescribe buprenorphine serve a very important function in helping the country cope with the opioid crisis. They are also a life-saving link for patients who have suffered for years with an overwhelming addiction.
Operating a methadone clinic or buprenorphine/suboxone practice is typically a complex endeavor. Clinics that offer medication-assisted treatment (MAT) must comply with a myriad of mandates and policy requirements from the DEA, the local State Methadone Authority, accreditation organizations like CARF and JCAH, SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration}, and 3rd party payers who help fund treatment services.
Patients understand that a well-run treatment clinic offers many benefits. Quality services are only delivered when there is an organizational commitment to helping people while also being able to meet all of the operational requirements such as timely documentation of services (paperwork) and appropriate support of staff & counselors,
Sometimes patients will complain about “so many clinic rules” although many patients appreciate their clinic’s dedication to professionalism and its ability to meet the standards of good quality care. Within most treatment facilities are several key staff who oversee its daily operation and the provision of services. These are the Clinical Director, the Medical Director or primary prescribing physician, the Nurse Supervisor, and possibly clinical staff Team Leaders who do the work of coordinating the clinics many daily activities.
While the list of clinic rules can seem long, there is nearly always an important underlying reason for that rule to exist. Most methadone clinics distribute a Handbook for clients that outlines their rights as an opioid treatment patient as well as guidelines for obtaining dosage adjustments and progressing successfully through treatment.
Opioid treatment, and medication-assistance in particular, must be carefully monitored. This is to insure patient safety and to minimize the risk of medication errors. Please support your local methadone or suboxone clinic with words of encouragement and positive feedback when it is earned. Conversely, it is important to speak up as well if serious problems are occurring. Always make an effort to communicate first with the clinic’s clinical and administrative staff if experiencing a problem. If an honest effort to resolve an issue in this manner is not productive, then contacting one’s local State Methadone Authority is sometimes a logical next step for addressing an important concern.
Several organizations in Ohio recently hosted a town hall discussion on the opioid crisis still occurring there and across the country. News commentator, Eric Bolling, was a moderator of the event which was held at Cedarville University.
Eric and his wife, Adrienne, lost their 19 year old son in 2017 due to an accidental overdose with the powerful opioid, fentanyl.
This town hall discussion was designed to continue raising public awareness on the danger of opioid misuse and the continuing need for treatment and recovery support services to help families deal with this perpetual problem.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that there were 70,237 drug overdoses in 2017 with 47,600 involving opioids specifically. The article linked above states that the state of Ohio ranked 2nd in overdose deaths only behind West Virginia.
There is promising news in that more Americans are now being educated on opioid risks, and consequently are taking better precautions as well as actively accessing methadone & suboxone programs offering helpful medication-assistance and behavioral counseling. Saving lives and offering recovery are messages that are being heard.