Opiate addiction is an epidemic that can be treated in a variety of ways. With addiction taking lives everyday and destroying families, multiple ways are needed to treat addicts. Not every treatment works for everyone and I am a firm believer that one shoe does not fit all when it comes to recovery. The only thing that matters is helping someone who is lost in the world of addiction find their way into the beautiful world of recovery. Allowing them to find themselves and live the rest of their life on their own terms without their addiction weighing down every aspect of their life. Breaking the chains and moving on happily is what ever addicts needs.
One weapon in the fight against opiate epidemic is buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is a medication that helps to block the craving for heroin. Buprenorphine dramatically reduces the physical need for drugs and by doing so helps addicts and their families recover from the tragic damage that addiction can cause. The most commonly prescribed form (Suboxone) combines buprenorphine with another substance, naloxone, which makes the medication less susceptible to abuse. Naloxone is a medication that I have written about extensively. It is known widely as the “second chance drug” because it reverses the effects of an overdose while they are occurring.
In 2000, the Drug Addiction Treatment Act (DATA 2000) was written by Carl Levin and Senator Orrin Hatch which made it legal for physicians to prescribe Buprenorphine in their offices. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its use in 2002. The problem with DATA 2000 is that it allowed physicians to only prescribe buprenorphine to a maximum of 30 patients. In 2006 Senator Hatch and Carl Levin held a forum to examine and dispute the limit which led the enactment of legislation to increase the limit from 30 to 100 patients.
The problem with limiting the amount of patients that doctors can prescribe buprenorphine to is that it turns patients away that are actively seeking help. How do you say no to someone who has their life on the line? The law makes no sense because most of the patients who want to be prescribed the medication were first hooked on painkillers. Ironically there is no limit to the amount of patients a doctor can prescribe painkillers to at one time. But an addict who feels that buprenorphine will help them in their road to recovery gets turned away because there is a limit to the amount of patients a doctor can prescribe it to. The law needs to be re-examined immediately.
Although I am not an avid supporter of Buprenorphine, I have met plenty of people that it has helped. I have talked with people who claim it has saved their life. I also have met people that said it was not the right choice for them as well as people who despise it. The crazy thing about recovery like I stated earlier is that there is no one fix that works for everyone. It is one of the many reasons why recovery is so difficult and why the rite of passage from addiction to recovery is something to be proud of.