Opioid abuse is a serious issue in America today. Substance abuse disorders affect more than 20 million Americans every year. Every day of the year, more than 90 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, which includes prescription pain killers, heroin, and synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Not only is opioid abuse itself dangerous, but it leads to heroin use and addiction in 4 to 6 percent of opioid abusers. This epidemic—the misuse of addictive opioids—drains families, communities, and the economy at alarming rates. Because of the severity of the problem, pharmaceutical companies, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Center for Disease Control is working in different ways to address the serious issue of opioid abuse in America.
Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)
There are drugs currently on the market that are effective for opioid abuse disorder, including buprenorphine, methadone, and extended release naltrexone. The best treatment for opioid abuse disorder is a combination of medication along with behavioral therapy. This method, called Medication-assisted treatment (MAT), has been effective in decreasing opioid abuse, opioid-related overdose deaths, criminal activities, and infectious disease transmission for many years. A patient with Opioid Abuse Disorder can benefit from individual and group counseling, recovery support services, 12-Step programs, and peer support. Because of the effectiveness of medication-assisted treatment, most inpatient/residential facilities and hospital programs utilize this method of treatment. MAT is most effective when patients are introduced in the emergency department rather than referred by a primary care physician. The medical field and pharmaceutical industry is proactive in researching and implementing methods and treatments that work in order to provide better access to effective treatments.
FDA Approves First Once-Monthly Buprenorphine Injection
On November 30, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Sublocade, the first once-monthly injectable buprenorphine product used to treat adults with moderate-to-severe opioid abuse disorder. This method of treatment is for adult patients who have used buprenorphine in another form for at least seven days and can benefit from a once-monthly administration. This move is one more step toward improving access to preventative services, treatment and recovery services, and medication-assisted treatments. Sublocade should be combined with counseling and psychosocial support for best results, and should be administered by a health care professional subcutaneously (under the skin). In order to be approved by the FDA, Sublocade underwent extensive tests, manufacturing standards, and has proven that the drug’s benefits outweigh it’s known risks. An FDA approval means that patients can begin benefiting from Sublocade as soon as possible. If you or someone you know could benefit from medication-assisted treatment for opioid abuse disorder, consult your doctor about treatment today.
Preventing Opioid Abuse Disorder
Community education is one of the best ways to prevent opioid abuse disorder, sometimes called opioid addiction/dependence/abuse. The best way to prevent this epidemic in your household is to follow prescription drug labels correctly, talk with your doctor honestly about signs and symptoms, and consider alternatives for pain management such as pain clinics and lifestyle changes.