The opioid epidemic has been sweeping the nation, and Pennsylvania is certainly no exception.
In fact, both the number of age-adjusted drug overdose deaths and opioid pain reliever prescriptions in Pennsylvania has been consistently higher than the national average for the past few years.1 As a drug addiction treatment center in PA, we have seen the devastating effects of opioids on our patients and the terrible hold that it can have on their lives. Because the number of people addicted to opioids in the state is so alarming, the issue has raised a debate about Suboxone in Pennsylvania. Should we make it more accessible or is that going to only make matters worse?
What Is Suboxone?
To start, we should clarify exactly what suboxone is and what it does. Suboxone is a common brand name for buprenorphine. It is a prescription medicine that is used to help treat people addicted to opioids by mitigating the euphoric effects and also tricking the brain into believing it has gotten its fix. It comes in the form of an oral film that dissolves in the mouth.
The debate about Suboxone in Pennsylvania focuses on just how accessible the drug should be. New state legislation that would limit people’s ability to get suboxone by closely regulating how doctors prescribe it is being debated. As a Pennsylvania inpatient detox center, we know that there is no one solution to the opioid epidemic, and we want you to know both sides of the story and how this legislation could affect your future.
Pros of Decreased Pennsylvania Suboxone Access
Those who are in favor on the legislation being passed have made a couple of points to support their argument.
One such argument is that some people will go in for a suboxone prescription and then sell the drug on the streets instead. Even though suboxone is a minor opioid drug, it still can be abused and is valuable on the streets.2 Some policymakers worry that with more suboxone on the street, the opioid problem isn’t really going away. State representative Gene DiGirolamo says, “The addicts are getting a 30-day supply, using some of it or maybe not using any of it, and taking it on the street and selling it.”
There is also such thing as Suboxone withdrawal. When someone injects the medication instead of letting it dissolve in the mouth as described, it could result in some uncomfortable side effects. If people are given suboxone more freely, withdrawal may also occur more frequently.
Cons of Decreased Suboxone Access in PA
The opposing side has made points to argue their case as well. They worry that decreased ease of access will only hurt those who really need it.
Perhaps the biggest con of decreased access to suboxone is that that the drug has been proven to decrease opioid overdose deaths and also keep people in treatment programs longer.3 A letter from the Pennsylvania Medical Society and the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society talks about the legislation and claims it “has the potential of denying lifesaving medical treatment to Pennsylvanians in need of substance use treatment.”
Another argued con with the new bill is that it would require those getting the drug to also attend a treatment center. Not everyone may be willing to do so, meaning fewer people would be getting any form of help.
If you or someone you love is looking for opiate treatment in Pennsylvania, our rehab center wants to help. Overcoming an addiction isn’t easy, but a professional treatment center will give you your best chance for long-term success. Call us at 570-536-9621 today to learn more.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse – Pennsylvania: Opioid-Involved Deaths and Related Harms
- NPR – Addiction Treatment Gap Is Driving A Black Market For Suboxone
- National Institute on Health – Extended Suboxone Treatment Substantially Improves Outcomes for Opioid-Addicted Young Adults