Health professionals throughout the U.S. are striving to slow the rate of patients becoming addicted to opioids by making other treatments, including buprenorphine, more easily accessible.
Approximately 78 people in the U.S. die each day because of opioid overdose. An estimated 2.2 million Americans deal with an addiction to illegal opioids -- like heroin -- or opioid pain medications.
Opioid addiction, which is also known as opioid use disorder, is a complicated illness typically connected to high-risk behavior, chronic drug use and several other behavioral as well as medical issues.
To help opioid-addicted patients, health professionals have developed the medication assisted treatment (MAT) program, which combines counseling, medication and other systems of support for patients.
Unfortunately, over 50 percent of people who need the treatments do not have access to them. This is usually because they can’t find providers or afford the fees. Health professionals are determined to create more resources for these underserved populations.
MAT uses methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone to reach underserved populations. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) cannot resolve all of the issues preventing people from receiving treatments, but they are trying to make treatments more readily available and affordable.
The HHS proposes that there be a new regulation to reduce an obstacle for these populations: the limit of how many people a physician can prescribe with buprenorphine at a certain time. As of today, doctors can treat just 100 patients with this drug at one time; extending this limit could help people with opioid addictions.