The stress of social isolation is especially challenging for people battling an addiction to opioids — an estimated 2 million of them in the U.S. Health care providers worry that the pressure of lockdown, in many cases combined with loss of income or a higher-than-average risk of infection, will increase accidental overdoses and opioid-related suicides.
Some good news: Federal and state agencies have acted promptly to prevent such deaths of despair by making it easier for people in need to get the medications buprenorphine and methadone. This change was overdue, and it shouldn’t be temporary.
Evidence shows that the most effective, lifesaving treatment for opioid addiction relies on medications that quell people’s cravings and relieve withdrawal symptoms without causing euphoria or overuse. Such treatment has often been regarded with suspicion – even outlawed in its earliest days – under the false assumption that it merely replaces one opioid habit with another. Medications for opioid-use disorder continue to carry an undeserved stigma, and have been too tightly controlled. Methadone has been available only at federally certified clinics. Buprenorphine prescriptions could be written only in person by the small fraction of clinicians (less than 10 percent of primary-care providers) who have received special training.
Source: Brattleboro Reformer