I have written many blogs about certain states that have been pro-active against the epidemic that is opiate addiction. Opiate abuse now kills more people than car accidents each year. The state that has been far and away the most pro-active is Ohio. Ohio lost over 1,000 citizens last year to opiate overdoses and the Governor John Kasich spoke in January at his "State of the State" address primarily about the opiate epidemic in Ohio. It is very obvious that he cares about the issue and more importantly cares about the safety and health of the citizens of Ohio.
Nearly 1,000 professionals in the substance abuse field, judges and others on the front lines of Ohio's opiate epidemic were filled with hope last week. At a conference on opiate addiction in the states capitol of Columbus, Governor John Kasich and other state officials outlined how they are working with law enforcement agencies, schools, mental health and addiction boards, drug courts and others to alleviate a public health crisis that plagued their state and taken more than 1,000 lives last year.
The problem that I see being built because of this conference may create an even larger problem for the citizens of Ohio. Much of the conference was dedicated to the fact that as few as one in ten Ohioans who need drug treatment get it. That is a fact and needs to be taken care of correctly. The problem is that too much of the conference was emphasizing the need for more medication-assisted treatment. The conference explained that because of a lack of resources and lingering cultural biases, the availability of medications that help with opiate withdrawal have been limited. The medications mentioned were Methadone, Suboxone and Naltrexone. According to the conference speakers, these medications dramatically increase recovery success rates.
Let me be clear that this is my opinion and my opinion is based on 5 years of knowledge in recovery and speaking and helping thousands of addicts and recovering addicts in that time period. My opinion is that Ohio is leading their citizens into a disaster by putting so much emphasis on medication-assisted treatment and putting Suboxone and Methadone in the same category as Naltrexone. Naltrexone should not be grouped with Methadone and Suboxone because you can not become addicted to it. I am 100% behind the use of Naltrexone, which is most widely known by the name Vivitrol. I am not a supporter of Methadone or Suboxone.
Like I have said many times in my blogs, I speak to thousands of people each year. Many of the people I speak to were addicted to either prescription painkillers or heroin. They then decided to either use Methadone or Suboxone to help them get off of the painkillers or heroin. At first it helps greatly because you do not have to suffer through withdrawals. The problem is that these two medications are highly addictive because they too cause severe withdrawal symptoms. Methadone is widely known as the opiate that causes the most extreme withdrawal symptoms and the more time Suboxone is on the market is showing to cause withdrawal symptoms worse than heroin and painkillers.
The conference was pushing the need for these two medications to be added to their arsenal and that they are not nearly as addictive as painkillers or heroin. I feel these statements are false and the citizens need to be aware of the dangers of Suboxone and Methadone. Even with a proper taper of the medications you will still feel withdrawal symptoms. This may be starting a problem that Ohioans are not even aware of and the consequences may be terrible. I really hope that the state offers education on these medications and pushes Naltrexone by itself and does not group it with Methadone or Suboxone