A Nation at Risk
The United States of America is five percent of the entire world’s population, yet we consume seventy-five percent of the world’s pharmaceutical drugs. OxyContin reportedly lost eighty percent of its income when the manufacturer stopped making the pill in a crushable form, where substance abusers could shoot, snort, and smoke the drug.
It seems that the opiate problem in the United States started back when doctors could be put in prison for under prescribing pain medication to patients who claimed to be suffering from pain. It was up to the patient to tell the doctor if they needed more narcotic pain medication or stronger medication. If a physician didn’t comply with a patient’s request, the doctor could be imprisoned for leaving the patient in pain.
Today it is just the opposite. No matter how much pain an individual is in, it is very difficult to have a doctor prescribe any type of narcotic pain medication because of the opiate epidemic sweeping across the United States. Many people who were on long-term pain management pain medication have suddenly been terminated from being prescribed opiate medications after years of use. These individuals have turned to heroin to meet their need because of affordability and availability.
Doctors are being prosecuted and imprisoned for overprescribing opiate pain medications, which was unheard of in the past. Political pressure due to the drug epidemic and the rising death rate have demanded such a result. Doctors are being scrutinized for writing opiate prescriptions by government agencies such as the DEA and state licensing boards with unprecedented results.
The heroin sold on the streets is unregulated; it may be cut with potent drugs such as fentanyl, or other powerful drugs causing many overdoses. Those who were using OxyContin rapidly lose their tolerance to the drug when they stop using it for any period of time, which also contributes to overdoses.
Suboxone is made up of both buprenorphine and antagonist naloxone; it is designed to be used as maintenance treatment for opiate dependence. Naloxone has been added to Suboxone to protect against intravenous abuse of buprenorphine by individuals physically dependent on opiates. In other words, to protect against overdosing from opiates. In the short-term, Suboxone seems like a good solution for those who are struggling with opiate addiction and at high risk for overdose. A word of caution; however, Suboxone is very difficult to get off of the failure rate is ninety-five percent within the first year. It’s still better than overdosing!
A good treatment program, long-term aftercare, recovery coaching, case management, therapy, counseling, outpatient, and medication management, when needed, seems to work well along with support groups such as AA and NA.
If you or someone you know needs help with an addiction problem, please call for help today. No one has to die from addiction; don’t become another statistic!
Rev. Dr. Kevin T. Coughlin Ph.D.