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Opioids and the President: Improving Care Options for Addicts

Posted on :  April 26th, 2016  |  By :  towardsrecovery

Since the War on Drugs became a hot-button issue in politics, the President of the United States has had something to say about it. With continued growth of heroin addictions in North America, it was only time before the current President of the United States, Barack Obama, tackled the problem of opioids and treatments. His request for health care providers is to look for ways to increase the treatment options for those who are suffering from opioid addictions.

Embracing Medical Treatment

His call for attention to this horrible epidemic calls out the fact that for decades, treatment has focused on abstinence – refraining from using drugs in the first place. This model of treatment does not help those who are already addicted. This model also looks negatively on the idea of using prescription drugs to treat opioid addiction. Obama spoke about this problem and how important it is to change the way health care workers and government agencies treat opioid addictions.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved methadone and buprenorphine as treatment options for people who are addicted to opioids. But, abstinence counselors do not talk about them. Obama wants the drug courts to be able to administer those medications to addicts or the courts would lose federal funding. The reasoning is because the criminal justice system has a misunderstanding about treating opioid addictions with medication.

Support for the President’s Initiative

The head of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration supports the president. The SAMHSA will work with other agencies to help them understand the value of the prescription treatments that include methadone and buprenorphine. Using a medical assisted treatment has proven successful for the majority of patients who have used it. The SAMHSA will also work to increase the availability of buprenorphine to agencies that work with opioid addicts.

With the president’s attention to medically treating opioid addiction, abstinence counseling will change. The government agencies that counsel rather than medically treat opioid addiction will now need to share the information about medically assisted treatment. The president wants these organizations to develop and submit a plan of action to the federal government.

Increasing Treatment Options for Physicians

To make the transition from abstinence counseling to medical assisted treatment, the White House wants to give the ability to prescribe buprenorphine to 30,000 more physicians. When the medical treatment is added to support from a drug counselor, addicts have the best results. Currently, there are not enough physicians licensed to prescribe buprenorphine. This will help urban, suburban, and rural communities that currently do not have treatment centers.

Interestingly, there are many decision makers, like judges and health care providers who do not like medical assisted treatment for opioid addiction. There are judges who refuse to offer medical treatment to defendants who have obvious opioid addictions. Those judges prefer to not offer it because they like having one treatment to give to everyone.

Democrats and Republicans Give Their Support

On the flip side, both political parties in the United States see the benefits of the President’s powerful statement about medically treating opioid addiction. Politicians from both sides of the aisle appreciate that the President wants to help families that are suffering and law enforcement agencies that are limited in their offerings. They also appreciate how adding medically assisted treatment for addiction will help health care workers take better care of their patients.

Removing Cap Limits

Currently, health care workers in the United States have a limited number of patients they can treat with methadone and buprenorphine. With the changes the President is proposing, physicians can increase the number of patients they can treat so no addict is left behind due to federal cap limits on treatment. This should reduce the stigma of addiction and give addicts the ability not only to use medical treatment, but to access health counseling support, too.

Contact Towards Recovery at 905-527-2042 or email at for counseling or addiction treatment.

Who We Serve ?

  • Individuals using/abusing street narcotics (e.g. heroin).
  • Patients abusing prescription narcotics(i.e., Codeine, Talwin, Percocet/Percodan, Dilaudid, Morphine or Demerol, et cetera).
  • Individuals displaying any of the following behaviours: Compulsive drug use or drug seeking/craving.
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