AAFP Congress of Delegates vice president writes blog post on battling opioid addiction
According to the blog post, the opioid addiction epidemic has steadily worsened in recent years. Two to three people die in Schwartzstein’s state every day to the problem, and one dies nationally every 20 to 30 minutes.
The overdose death rate in the U.S. was four times worse in 2008 than it was in 1999. These deaths come not from addiction to illegal drugs like heroin, but from legally prescribed drugs.
Schwartzstein believes it is up to him -- and to family physicians nationwide -- to do something about the issue. He noted that a recent presentation by Dr. Aleksandra Zgierska, a family physician from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, discussed buprenorphine as a possible aid for treatment of opioid addiction. During her presentation, Zgierska noted that after six to 12 months of treatment with buprenorphine, 50-80 percent of patients no longer use opioids.
Schwartzstein applied for the American Society of Addiction Medicine buprenorphine waiver. He concluded his blog post by giving a call to action: he urges family physicians to consider obtaining the waiver in order to deliver office-based opioid treatment.