The battle to end the prescription drug abuse epidemic in the United States is now more complicated than ever. The Wall Street Journal reported last week on new findings that show how prescriptions such as buprenorphine, meant to help with addiction, are now also being abused by many addicts who take them. One pharmaceutical company had a plan to combat this.
“Titan Pharmaceuticals Inc. plans to file for Food and Drug Administration approval in September for a matchstick-size implant of buprenorphine, a drug that eases withdrawal symptoms. Current versions of the drug normally come in a pill or strip, but many are being diverted to the black market and taken to get high, because they contain small amounts of opioids, or used more heavily by addicts than they should be to relieve withdrawal symptoms, according to Titan as well as law enforcement officials.”
Buprenorphine in pill form can be easily ground down and snorted or injected. The implant would eliminate that possibility. Although our treatment method aims for abstinence from drugs and alcohol, which can occur with focused treatment on the underlying causes of addiction, this new form of buprenorphine is certainly less easily abused than other forms, and that effort, we applaud. The Wall Street Journal article goes on to say that:
“Pharmacies dispensed enough painkillers last year to keep every American adult medicated around the clock for a month, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated two million Americans are addicted to the prescription opioids. Of that number, 800,000 are currently receiving treatment, Titan said.”
Clearly we have a long way to go. It is easy to despair after reading such statistics, but as we always say, with each person struggling with addiction who chooses to get help, a step – however tiny – is made toward eradicating the problem.