If you know someone who has struggled with opioid addiction, then you have probably heard about the medication, Suboxone. Especially now, with the drug crisis growing to epic proportions, Suboxone slowly becomes the most popular form of drug “treatment” throughout the industry.
While many professionals rave about this “miracle drug,” they fail to disclose the negative side effects that come along with it. Yes, it can sometimes act as an aid in weaning opioid addicts off of heavier substances, such as heroin, but it is rarely used in that capacity. What is being seen more often, is an influx of patients becoming addicted to this medication, as they are prescribed it for longer periods of time.
There are several reasons why this is happening, yet one specific reason holds true. Those responsible for prescribing Suboxone, lack the necessary education in drug and alcohol addiction…and treatment.
And, it seems the government has just made it easier for more unqualified individuals to prescribe this medication. Here’s the latest on Suboxone…
The DEA Updates Suboxone Prescribing Regulations
Most recently, the DEA updated prescribing regulations regarding Suboxone. Their reasoning behind doing so is to equip more medical professionals with the ability and authorization to prescribe the medication, namely those in rural communities. Nevertheless, by doing so, they allow for more unqualified professionals to write prescriptions as they see fit, putting a dangerous drug in the hands of thousands of individuals.
In 2000, the Drug Addiction Treatment Act (DATA 2000) was passed, expanding the clinical context of medication-assisted treatment, primarily for opioid dependency. DATA 2000 permitted the prescription of Schedule III, IV, and V narcotic medications in settings other than drug treatment programs. This reduced the regulatory burden of physicians, and now in order to dispense Suboxone, physicians had to only apply for and receive waivers.
Now, with the CARA Bill intact, the DEA has loosened its restrictions once more. In a statement the DEA said, “The latest change is part of a 2016 law that added categories of practitioners who may prescribe the narcotic drug buprenorphine for maintenance or detoxification treatment.” Meaning, nurse practitioners and physician assistants will now have prescribing qualifications.
This change is in reaction to the lack of Suboxone doctors in rural communities. According to Reuters, 90% of qualified physicians are located in urban areas, and 30 million individuals reside in regions where drug addiction treatment is unavailable.
So, on some level, this decision may seem plausible, nevertheless, when we explore this issue deeper, it leaves much room for error.
A Lack Of Qualifications & Requirements
There is no question that the opioid drug epidemic is the worst health crisis our country has seen in centuries. Thousands are dying every year and millions are caught in a continuous cycle of addiction.
This crisis continues to be perpetuated by a lack of treatment resources and our society’s gut reaction to solve problems, ailments, and diseases with medication. Yes, in some instances, prescription drugs are necessary, but we have come to a point where we no longer strive to find alternative means of care. We prescribe first, and ask questions later; much of the reason why we find ourselves in this position.
On the surface, this may seem like a practical and reasonable decision, especially since so many Americans are in need of treatment. However, to rely solely on medication, is NOT treatment!
In fact, what qualifications and experience do nurse practitioners and physician assistants have in treating addiction? Are they educated in addictions counseling and have the ability to provide therapeutic techniques that have clear evidence to support its efficacy? It seems one of the only requirements for these practitioners will be to undergo 24 hours of training. Yes, that’s correct…just 24 hours.
Moreover, are they required to refer patients to drug and alcohol outpatient counseling, and do extensive follow ups after prescribing the drug? Or, are they simply writing a prescription, and sending the opioid dependent patient on their way…with an addictive opioid in their possession?
Do you see how this could be a problem?
Time and time again it has been proven that drug addiction is a disease of mind, body, and spirit. The most experienced addictions professionals will tell you that chemical dependency needs to be treated as a whole person illness.
To treat one third of the disease, is like amputating a leg and never providing the patient with physical or occupational therapy. The infected leg is gone, but now the patient is hobbling around on one foot, trying to figure out how to survive. If they are not given the necessary tools to learn to live without something they have always been dependent on, what does their quality of life look like? Yes, they may be alive, but at what cost?
According to a report by the National Rural Health Association, 53% of rural counties did not have a doctor who could prescribe Suboxone. Nevertheless, the report also found that 92% of substance abuse facilities were located in urban settings, leaving rural communities with fewer inpatient residential options.
Rather than addressing this crisis with more prescription drugs, we need to focus on the fact that there are limited inpatient drug and alcohol treatment centers in rural areas. Rather than pouring our time and money into allowing for more Suboxone, we need to take those resources and actually treat more of the disease. When we care for addicted individual as a WHOLE person, we give them a better chance of not only survival, but a quality of life that is unmatched by prescription drugs.
Contact Clearbrook Today
Have you found yourself caught in a never ending cycle of addiction? Or, have you become addicted to a medication that was promised to save your life, yet all you find is more of the same? If so, you should know that there is another way. There is a REAL solution!
For 45 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been providing a quality of care that cannot be matched. By utilizing a comprehensive approach of customized detoxification protocols and individualized clinical treatment plans, we afford our patients the opportunity to recover and begin their journey to wellness in a setting that truly cares. Before you leave our program, you will have all of the necessary tools to achieve lasting sobriety.
If you are ready to see what life really has to offer, please give us a call today!
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