A Call for Medication-Assisted Treatment

Photo: Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Photo: Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Opioid addiction treatment is of the utmost importance as the United States struggles with what can only be described as an epidemic. Recovering from opioid use disorders is quite difficult and the rate of relapse among opioid addicts is high. Fortunately, there are medications available, such as Suboxone ® (buprenorphine), that can assist those recovering from opioid addictions have a better shot at success. On the other hand, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that of the 2.5 million Americans that medication-assisted treatment (MAT) could help, only 40 percent actually receive it, USA Today reports.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that drug overdoses are cutting the lives short of nearly 44,000 Americans every year (more than car accidents), the need for greater access to medication that recovering addicts could benefit from is great. Opioid addicts who are given MAT cut their risk of death from all causes in half, according to Melinda Campopiano of SAMHSA.

Suboxone ® is normally used in treatment settings for detoxification purposes, easing the discomfort of opioid withdrawal, and in most cases recovering addicts are weaned off of the drug within two weeks of the initial detox. However, many addicts who have history of chronic relapse have used Suboxone ® maintenance programs to reduce the chances of another relapse, and potentially preventing an unforeseen overdose. The drug has two facets, it eases the discomfort of withdrawal and it blocks the effects of opiates – if a patient uses opioids they will not experience the euphoric effects of the drug.

“Some people can taper off of it, but some people need it forever,” said Kelly Clark, President-Elect of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. “We don’t tell people, ‘Let’s decrease your dose of statins and see how you do.’ The goal of treating your cholesterol is not to get you off statins. The goal is to decrease your risk of a heart attack.”

Sens. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Rand Paul, R-Ky. introduced bills to expand access to medication-assisted treatment, according to the article. The American Society of Addiction Medicine increased access medication-assisted treatment.

Opioid use disorders affect millions of Americans. If you are struggling with opioids, please do not hesitate to reach out for help. At Synergy Group Services we offer individualized treatment plans for the treatment of alcoholism.

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