A new measure enacted by the Obama administration allows doctors to see more patients to treat opioid addiction. The recent cap on the amount of patients a doctor was allowed to treat with buprenorphine (Suboxone and Subutex) was only 100 – under a new law doctors will be granted access to as many as 275 patients at a time.
The New Opioid Epidemic
There is a new drug crisis facing the country and it comes in the form of low-grade heroin mixed with fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid that is many times stronger than both heroin and morphine combined. An average of nearly 150 people overdose from this deadly mixture per day across the country and it looks like it is getting much worse before it gets any better. The purpose of drugs like buprenorphine (Suboxone and Subutex) is to block the opioid receptors in the brain from registering the drug and its harmful and addictive effects on the mind and body. The drug is used primarily in detox settings to assist the patient with the agonizing withdrawal symptoms while slowly tapering off opioids altogether. Although these drugs are designed to combat opioid addiction they do carry some risk for dependence themselves, but the consensus is the benefits far outweigh the risks.
Critics of the new reform see the prescription drugs as just another cause for concern amidst a drug frenzied climate unwilling to support more drugs flowing uninterrupted into the hands of addicts. The opposition claims the new measure will just enable addicts and prevent them from truly ever shaking their habit to opiates and opioids. They believe clinics and pill mills will begin to spring up left and right adding fuel to the flames rather than extinguishing the fire.
Regardless of what the opposition feels lawmakers are moving forward in hopes that this will provide ammunition and much needed reserves in the overall battle. The White House has recently announced an additional increase in funding of 94 million dollars earmarked for addiction treatment and recovery services, and that figure is likely to increase in order to meet demand. It is estimated that this new initiative will accommodate 70,000 more addicts for treatment.
Hope after Opioid Addiction
There is no magic bullet panacea for treating every addict with a dependency for opiates and opioids. Drugs that are designed to help an addict slowly wean themselves off much harder substances can only do so much good in the long run. The most effective way to combat this epidemic is to raise awareness around the drugs and an effective detox regimen tailored towards changing the behavior and coping skills of the user.
Providing the addicted individual with positive outlets and substitutes for their compulsions is an essential ingredient to getting better and leading a more productive and healthy life sans drugs or alcohol. As long as there is a desire and willingness on the part of the individual to get help there is hope for full recovery. As a country we need to do our best to provide a solid infrastructure and support system to give addicts wanting to get sober a fighting chance at getting clean.