For anyone suffering with any kind of addiction, getting treatment is the key to improving health and getting their life back on track. However, a new report is showing that when it comes to the fentanyl crisis, fewer people are seeking addiction treatment due to the withdrawal symptoms for those being put on buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opioid abuse.
It’s a worrying time in the USA in particular when it comes to the fentanyl crisis, with a staggering number of overdose deaths at present. In the last 12 months alone, the substance has led to almost 108,000 deaths and that is only going to increase as the substance finds even more of a foothold in society.
Sarah Kawasaki, an addiction doctor at Pennsylvania State University said that the situation is the “clinical challenge of my career”, while claiming that the process of getting patients to start buprenorphine treatment is becoming more difficult, while the ways in which people can be treated is limited, and comes with barriers.
That’s putting people off getting the care they need to combat fentanyl addiction. There are two types of medication people can get for opioid addiction, buprenorphine and methadone, the latter of which is regulated significantly, making it a lot more difficult to go through the treatment process.
Kawasaki believes more needs to be done in this regard. She said, “We have 20 different ways to treat strep throat, but two medications that work well in the treatment of opioid use disorder.
“When you eliminate one and make the other really hard to get, it is a setup for failure.”
The elimination of buprenorphine is largely coming because it can cause discomfort and “precipitated withdrawal”, a type of withdrawal that occurs if opioids are already in the system when it is taken.
Therefore, many doctors wait until patients begin to experience withdrawal from opioids before they administer buprenorphine, in order for it to not cause discomfort, but it can also lead to symptoms getting worse, which can put off the medication and fall back into their addiction.
Removing the barriers around methadone is one option that many are calling for, to help more people get treatment for fentanyl addiction, while others have tried microdosing burpernorphine in order to limit the side effects of it.
It’s a challenging period of time in which medical professionals are working hard to find a breakthrough to encourage more of those suffering to get the addiction treatment they need, and the next 12 months are certainly going to be vital as more fatalities are expected.