February 10, 2018

The Opioid Epidemic

We all know that too many people are dying from opioid overdoses.  These deaths usually occur in combination with other drugs, such as benzodiazepines (like Xanax) or alcohol.  Most of these death are accidental, but the accidental nature does not take away the risk associated with non-medical opioid use, nor the need to avoid it.  Unfortunately, avoiding opioid use can be very difficult because the drugs are so addicting, and cheap.  While prescription drugs are a problem, the greatest growth from opioid deaths comes from illegally obtained heroin or fentanyl.

Also, the group at greatest risk are not the 20-somethings, but white males from about 35 to 55 or 65.  Think homeless veterans.

Opioid addiction is a disease and should be treated as such.  The best treatment is MAT, medically assisted therapy.  The options here are methadone on buprenorphine.  Methadone can only be gotten from special treatment centers, while buprenorphine is widely available from many doctor’s offices, including The Helm Center.

The problem with medically assisted treatment is keeping people in it.  If you use drugs, if you get back with friends you use, you are likely to do so, also.  You need a new set of friends, friends who don’t use.

The Helm Center will spend time with you, providing some attention and counseling while you receive your refill.  It is surprising how little things can help you stay in treatment.

Another problem with buprenorphine is that it has street value.  Some people like to get it so that they can sell it.  Expect to have frequent urine drug screens while you are on buprenorphine.

A good answer to the problem of diverting buprenorphine is a new form of it which we inject once a month into your abdomen.  This formulation will be available soon.

Opioid addiction is a major problem.  It is also treatable.  The success of treatment depends upon you, but we at The Helm Center are here to help you help yourself.

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