New Steps to Treat America’s Opiate Addiction

by Dr. SooMi Lee-Samuel MD

PhysiciansContinueA recent article in the Chicago Tribune reported that the federal government intends to increase access to methadone and buprenorphine. These are drugs currently taken by hundreds of thousands of Americans to fight opiate addiction. These medications help control drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

The government has spent $94 million to allow health centers to serve 124,000 new patients.  Additionally, it changed a standing rule that prohibited doctors from expanding their caseloads.

Utilizing medications such as these in detox and addiction recovery is a highly controversial topic. Many believe that drugs such as methadone and buprenorphine are critical tools in freeing an individual from the grip of opiate addiction, while others claim the person simply shifts addiction from one drug to another.

We know opiate addiction is a disease which affects the body, mind and soul.  It is extremely difficult to break. This is why many outpatient and even inpatient efforts fail and relapse is very common. Medical research definitively indicates that many of those with addiction benefit from some form of medication to achieve recovery. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) strongly supports the use of medication as part of an integrated treatment program. According to NIDA, medication therapy may increase patient retention in addiction treatment programs and decrease the rate of relapse among alcoholics or addicts in recovery.

At Timberline Knolls, we use medications when indicated to help our residents. This is always in tandem with comprehensive therapy and 12- step facilitation. We believe this multi-pronged approach gives our women and adolescent girls the best chance to achieve life-long, sustainable recovery.

 

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