Tag Archives: buprenorphine

Many Patients Receiving Treatment for Opioid Addictions Still Being Prescribed Painkillers

Opioid AddictionsA new study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health revealed a major problem with prescribing practices in several states throughout the country. It was discovered that many patients who were receiving prescriptions for buprenorphine to treat their opioid addictions were also receiving prescriptions for prescription painkillers at the same time.

According to information from eleven states, two in five patients that were using buprenorphine were also being prescribed prescription painkillers. Additionally, it was discovered that 66% of people who had completed treatment were also being prescribed painkillers within 12 months.

This shocking discovery only serves to highlight the obvious need for better prescribing practices, prescription drug monitoring programs and more education for doctors. “Policymakers may believe that people treated for opioid addiction are cured, but people with substance abuse disorders have a lifelong vulnerability, even if they are not actively using. Our findings highlight the importance of stable, ongoing care for these patients,” commented Dr. G. Caleb Alexander, study author.

Many experts agree with Dr. Alexander. Treatment has been found to be one of the most effective ways to overcome an addiction to opiates. However, many people struggle to find a treatment facility that is right for them. This is made even more difficult by the potential changes being implemented surrounding the Affordable Care Act, which helped increase access to treatment for more people.

There are many successful ways of treating opioid addiction, and using burprenorphine (Suboxone) as an aid to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings has proven to have multiple benefits. What this study shows is that the healthcare system in America has a long way to go to help fix the opioid crisis that appears to be continuing to escalate.

U.S. Dept. of Health Continues Fight Against Opioid Addiction

painkillersThe United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced earlier this month new efforts to make an impact on the opioid problem in America. There were three main areas of focus included in this announcement, which were improving prescribing practices, increasing access to medication-assisted treatment and making naloxone more widely available for emergencies.

With this came what many consider the big news that doctors who are approved to prescribe buprenorphine have been able to more than double the number of people they can treat at a time. They were previously limited to 100 patients, but the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) just raised that cap to 275 patients.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell stated, “The opioid epidemic is one of the most pressing public health issues in the United States. More Americans now die from drug overdoses than car crashes, and these overdoses have hit families from every walk of life and across our entire nation. At HHS, we are helping to lead the nationwide effort to address the opioid epidemic by taking a targeted approach focused on prevention, treatment, and intervention.”

The part that seems to stand out as having the greatest overall impact is the changing of prescribing practices by doctors who give out painkillers. Opiates have been too heavily relied on to treat various pain conditions, while at the same time underestimating their abuse and addiction potential, and a major overhaul is sorely needed.

In the meantime, wider availability and use of medications that like naloxone and buprenorphine can help to reduce the damage caused by painkillers and other opiates so that there is a better chance at rehabilitation. Most people want, and deserve, long-term fixes for opioid problems rather than temporary patches.

If you or someone you love has a problem with painkillers, heroin or any other type of drug, contact Desert Cove Recovery today to see how we can help.

Doctors Issue New Guidelines for Treating Opioid Addiction

doctors studyingThe medical community is immersed in the prescription painkiller epidemic in two ways. On the front end, doctors are often the ones prescribing the drugs like Oxycontin, Percocet and Vicodin to patients. Medical professionals are essentially the gatekeepers of prescription painkillers and often have to decide if patients are in legitimate need of medication or if they are seeking the painkillers to feed their addictions.

Additionally, doctors are also charged with treating addicts who are seeking help for their substance abuse problems. Because of this two-fold interaction with the prescription painkiller problem, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) gathered doctors from around the country to develop better policies for dealing with the painkiller epidemic.

The first problem that the group encountered was the insufficient training in addiction medicine for most doctors. While most physicians certainly understand the basic fundamentals of addiction, the nuances of treating this disease is considered a specialized form of medicine.

Doctors who are not familiar with addiction treatments often do not prescribe medication designed to help with drug withdrawals and detox, such as buprenorphine. While studies show that monitored use of drug replacement medications illicit better results in treatment, many doctors still consider this is replacing one dependency for another when used indefinitely. Suboxone is one of the most popular medications given to patients with a heroin or prescription painkiller addiction, ad currently only doctors who meet certain criteria are allowed to prescribe the medication.

Another problem that was discussed during the meeting was the lack of treatment facilities. Currently, state-run facilities oftentimes run at capacity, while private treatment centers are struggling to keep up with the demand. Doctors can contribute to the treatment problem by encouraging addicts to seek treatment, helping them locate appropriate treatment and staying up to date with the changing methods of treating addicts.

“We just don’t have enough specialty treatment facilities and expertise in this country to treat everyone. That’s why we need guidelines like this as part of a larger movement to help integrate treatment into general practice,” explained Christopher Jones from the Department of Health and Human Services.

These new guidelines are scheduled to be included in the new ASAM’s National Practice Guideline and will also be included in the CDC’s Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain coming out in the near future.