Can The Use of Opiate Drugs Be Curbed With the Help of the Government?
The war on opiate drugs is escalating, and our presidential candidates are definitely stepping up to including it in their campaigns. In the meantime, the Obama Administration is taking measures to help the situation by pushing for additional funding from Congress.
Suboxone treatment may be controversial, but it does help some people to get off of opiates like heroin and oxycontin. Currently, qualified doctors are only allowed to prescribe suboxone to 100 patients. The Obama Administration approved an expansion from 100 to 275, in order to increase the availability of the drug to people suffering from opiate addiction. The move can be controversial because suboxone itself is a highly addictive drug if it is misused or gets into the wrong hands, and now there will be 175 new people, per doctor, able to get a prescription.
On the other hand, there is a call for a national expansion for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help control the opioid epidemic. Many argue that this is a great tool for achieving sobriety and statistics show that it is actually marginally more effective than recovery that does not use medication. Medication can help ease the symptoms of withdrawal, but the downside is that they can also be dangerous if misused. Unfortunately, addicts are exactly the kind of population that would misuse them, so this can be a touchy and hard to argue subject.
The truth is that the answer to helping the opioid epidemic doesn’t just sit with a single medication increase. The approach needs to come from a wide pool of different resources that includes doctors, health insurance companies, the pharmaceutical companies, law enforcement, the government and the public. A lot of things need to change and come together like pieces of a puzzle in order for things to really turn around.
How The Whitehouse is Involved
There is no longer any denying that we are in the middle of an epidemic that is touching countless of people’s lives. In fact, tens of thousands of Americans are dying each year. Back in March, the Whitehouse announced a number of actions that would be taken to address the prescription drug and heroin problem. They included:
- Better access to treatment for all patients.
- Creating a task force for mental health and substance use disorder
- Making overdose reversal drugs like Narcan more available
- Expanding beyond inner cities and looking at rural areas and their drug abuse
- Syringe service programs to provide clean syringes to IV drug users
Changing the course of this epidemic is going to be something like turning a huge cargo ship around in water. It will take time, it won’t happen overnight, and it will take the dedication of a large group of people. It is clear that something needs to be done to prevent more people from needlessly dying from overdose, and the government taking steps towards achieving this is a great start.