A lot of questions have been raised in recent times about the best way to treat heroin addicts. The currently approved options in particular, such as methadone and suboxone have attracted queries with regards to whether they are truly the most effective pathways to recovery. With hydromorphone, a pain medication, starting to show promise, some voices have cast doubt on the idea of fighting addiction through the use of addictive drugs.
A study published in a medical journal (JAMA) as part of a ground-breaking research project stands at the center of many of these questions. Purposed towards assessing Longer-term Opioid Medication Effectiveness, the so-called SALOME project determined that hydromorphone, an opioid analgesic, could prove very beneficial to heroin addicts seeking treatment, especially if they have never used methadone or suboxone.
According to Doctor Patricia Daly, there is no denying the importance of methadone and buprenorphine; indeed, these two substances should remain the first line responses for heroin addicts seeking treatment. None the less, no one treatment can prove effective for every single individual.
Two hundred subjects from Vancouver took part in the SALOME project, receiving HDM(hydromorphone) or diacetylmorphine injections over a period of six months. Both HDM and diacetylmorphine proved equally effective treatment options for long-term addicts, with only 14 overdoses and 11 seizures emerging out of the nearly 90,000 injections received.
As far as Doctor Eugenia Oviedo-Joekes is concerned, the only way the safety of addicts and their communities can be ensured is by making injectable opioids available in certain clinics (with the necessary supervision in place). Not that Doctor Eugenia’s efforts (the Principle SALOME Investigator) have been received without opposition. While HDM can indeed treat heroin addiction, some people have questioned whether the treatment option can actually solve the problem, especially when it is merely turning heroin addicts into HDM addicts.
HDM use has been connected to the sorts of severe symptoms that can lead to death, especially when it is used by individuals without an opioid addiction. The U.S National Library of Medicine doesn’t believe that the risks HDM (which is typically injected every three hours) are worth the potential benefits of the drug, not with symptoms like chills, anxiety and stomach cramps which can manifest amongst those that use HDM and then stop cold turkey.
Some addicts have voiced their support for HDM, suggesting that, for all the discomfort it attracts, at the end of the day HDM addiction isn’t nearly as dangerous as heroin addiction.
According to organizations like the NLM, though, HDM and Heroin addiction are not so different from one another. Considering the role painkillers like Vicodin and Oxycontin play in heroin addiction, it is hardly surprising that some experts are unwilling to accept the use of an opioid to treat heroin addiction.
The United States Senate has already passed a bill to combat heroin and painkiller abuse. The idea of defeating heroin addiction by using painkillers simply doesn’t sit well with people in many circles of society, myself included.