Commentary: Treating Opiate Addiction

Treating Opiate Addiction- Senator Sherrod Brown- Join Together News Service from the Partnership for Drug-Free KidsDrug overdose has now surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of injury deaths in the United States. Every day in the United States, 44 people die as a result of prescription opioid overdose. When this many lives are affected by addiction and substance abuse, it’s clear we must take action to improve treatment options and prevent drug overdose.

To address this problem in Ohio and across the United States, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced plans to launch a targeted initiative aimed at reducing prescription opioid and heroin related overdose, death, and dependence. Specifically, HHS will provide federal support for the development and distribution of naloxone, a medicine which helps reverse overdoses. Last December, I wrote to HHS urging them to make this investment to prevent deaths from prescription drug overdose. This announcement is a great step toward tackling overdose – but we must do more to address this public health challenge.

Effective medication-assisted therapy, when combined with cognitive and behavioral supports and interventions, can decrease overdose deaths in a cost-effective manner. However, federal law limits the capacity for providers to care for patients with opioid abuse problems using medically-assisted treatment. Currently, physicians who meet specific training requirements are limited to treating a maximum of only 30 patients in the first year. After that year, the number of patients they can treat increases to only 100, leaving millions of Americans dependent on opioids without an option for medication-assisted therapy.

We’ve got a problem when it’s easier for Americans to get heroin than it is for them to get help to break their addiction. We need to increase the number of opioid addiction treatment providers available and allow providers with a proven track record of success to treat more patients. Last Congress, I co-sponsored The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment (TREAT) Act to give healthcare providers the flexibility they need to help heal communities struggling with widespread opioid addiction. And I’m working again this Congress to reintroduce the bill and pave the way for meaningful changes to drug addiction treatment.

The TREAT Act would increase the number of patients an appropriately trained physician can initially treat from 30 to 100 patients in the first year and permit qualified nurse practitioners and physician assistants with the proper training to treat addicted patients, again up to 100 per year. It would also allow authorized providers, after one year, to request to treat more than 100 patients, so long as they meet certain training requirements.

Opioid use is a public health crisis across the United States, and we need to address this problem before it puts more lives in danger. This legislation would ensure people, in Ohio and all states, get the help they need before it’s too late.

United States Senator Sherrod BrownBrown-062609-18446- 0008

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    Katie Hall

    April 30, 2015 at 1:56 PM

    “When this many lives are affected by addiction and substance abuse, it’s clear we must take action to improve treatment options and prevent drug overdose.”

    WHY ISN’T PREVENTING DRUG ABUSE (AKA DEMAND REDUCTION) THAT SHOULD BE THE “CLEAR ACTION”? We will never be able to “treat” our way out of drug abuse and/or addiction. The disparity between the amount of funds necessary for preventing drug abuse verses treating it has been shown to be extremely cost effective and the benefits to a society less burdened by healthcare costs, familial dysfunction, motor vehicles crashes, community chaos, academic and employment derailment, crime, and judicial costs should be obvious. The obvious reason for this disparity? Preventing drug abuse is far more political than treatment.

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    charles yarnell

    April 30, 2015 at 12:53 PM

    Also REAL interested to know how much PAC/ campaign $$$ you get comes from BIG PHARMA…just a question not an accusation

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    charles yarnell

    April 30, 2015 at 12:50 PM

    In a nutshell you want to make the physician the new dealer. Mark my words when you move the number of patients that can be seen from 30 to say 100 then every doctor is able to see this population will in fact be seeing 100 if you move it from 100 to 1000 then they will be seeing 1000. there are doctors who will cease doing anything but providing MAT. and they will NOT have any incentive for helping these patients eventually get off of MAT. As a LAADC in central California I am well aware of Methadone & other MAT modalities and consider myself among the minority that DO believe “recovery” and participation in an MAT modality can/does occur simultaneously. I also have a “personal” value that believe that LESS pharmaceutical involvement as opposed to MORE is the answer. Our country is quickly becoming the home of the RX solution to everything and this in my mind only serves to enrich BIG PHARMA and to some degree you and your opinion “couched” as concern for the overdosing addict really smacks of the same PRO-PHARMA propaganda that is behind every “this pill is the solution” message while forgetting to address the emotional/psychological/environmental component that is behind most Substance Use Disorders in the first place.

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    Eddie Hathcock

    April 30, 2015 at 12:04 PM

    Huge Thanks to all involved for addressing our opiate addiction problem and for more reasonable treatment options like medications…I am a recovering opiate addict myself with 15 years clean and sober this month. I give and owe my success on a large part to Subutex if it wasn’t for this medication I don’t think I could of made it…. Now that we have these life saving medications available, lets work on making these medications affordable for all…. Please !! Thank you

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    Skip Sviokla MD ABAM

    April 29, 2015 at 12:27 PM

    Kudos to the Senator.
    Skip Sviokla MD ABAM
    author “From Harvard to Hell…and Back”

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