Addiction in the News

From the director of a Maine OD prevention project:

Katz cited Suboxone as the latest drug to be abused.

The trend is particularly unnerving because of Suboxone’s importance in treating opiate addiction when used for its intended purpose.

“Suboxone can turn people’s lives around,” Katz said.

“Pharmaceutical companies assured everyone it couldn’t be abused. All the information came from pharmaceutical reps,” Katz said. Potential for abuse with this drug has been completely underestimated and has exploded, she said. “There seems to be an unstoppable flow on the street.”

A prestigious hospital 110 miles south describes their approach in an interview:

Larry Harmon: What is the state-of-the art treatment at McLean Hospital for
addiction to heroin and other opioids?

Kevin Hill: In most cases, we recommend buprenorphine (available as Suboxone or Subutex) medication treatment in addition to counseling.

This interview follows a lengthy article that was very critical of methadone programs in the Boston area. Of course, one of the arguments for suboxone is that it’s better than methadone:

MARIANNE TUCKER, 60, was 15 when she ran away from an abusive household in Albany and settled in Fall River, where she became addicted to heroin. She spent roughly 25 years in methadone treatment programs, including at the clinic now operated by Habit OPCO in Fall River, one of 10 methadone clinics in the state run by the Boston-based, for-profit company. She, like many addicts, describes her years on methadone as an endless cycle of daily dosing and methadone-related appointments. Tucker, who received state-subsidized treatment, said she sought to reduce her dosage, but staffers told her not to concentrate on the milligram number, just on how she felt.

“The for-profits keep you so high, you don’t know what you’re doing,’’ said Tucker.

The worst part, she said, was the daily experience of being around other addicts who weren’t committed to recovery. “This is the best place to hook up if you want to do dope,’’ she said.

About five years ago, she walked away from the clinic and sought Suboxone treatment from Dr. Claude Curran, a controversial addiction specialist in Fall River. Unlike with methadone, her Suboxone dose has gone down over time. And while methadone made her feel high, Suboxone makes her feel like the person she was before she started to use heroin — a feeling of freedom described by many addicts who switch from methadone to Suboxone.

Meanwhile, a columnist in the Canadian press uses the high recovery rates of doctors to assert that addiction is a choice without noting the disparities int he kind of treatment that doctors receive:

Doctors and airline pilots who get addicted to drugs (and there are lots) have recovery rates of 85 per cent or more….“Whether addicts keep using drugs or quit depends to a great extent on their alternatives,” Mr. Heyman writes….Drug addiction is a set of self-destructive impulses that are out of control – just like all the other impulses that lead us to choose short-term pleasure at the price of long-term pain. Drug addiction isn’t measles, and Insite is not a hospital, and we should stop pretending that it is.

Finally, Insite is seeking to create a “safe inhalation room” for crack addicts:

Proponents say the room would allow health officials to reach a fast-growing segment of drug users, a group prone to viruses because of dirty crack pipes. Critics say scientific evidence for the benefits of supervised inhalation rooms is scant, and such a facility would hurt addicts by allowing them a space to continue their habit.

The medical/public health case for an inhalation room is much weaker. What’s it about then? If it’s a desire to do outreach, what does it say about the effectiveness of outreach efforts, that, seemingly, the only way to improve them is to provide a place to get high?

2 Comments

Filed under Controversies, Harm Reduction, Policy, Treatment

2 responses to “Addiction in the News

  1. Safe inhalation room??!?! And it’s really not an Onion headline… LOL If they think they’re going to get crackheads to comply with any kind of structured anything, let ‘em try. As a recovering crackhead I believe I can say with authority that it would be more amusing to watch than if they tried to herd cats.

    • It begs a lot of questions about the motivations for such an intervention, doesn’t it? There’s no serious public health or medical argument. What are the underlying beliefs and goals?