Archives for Addiction

Addiction

Buprenorphine’s Relationship with Traditional Recovery

Regular readers of my blog know that I believe buprenorphine is the most important development for treating addiction during my lifetime.  At the same time, my own recovery from opioid dependence began over 20 years ago, long before the use of buprenorphine.  I am grateful for the change in my perspective that occurred one desperate afternoon, when I first recognized the uselessness of ‘will power’ for stopping opioids.  I was one of the lucky...
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Addiction

Why the Suboxone Doctor Shortage?

With all the recent attention over the epidemic of opioid dependence, why do some parts of the country report a shortage of physicians who are DATA-2000 certified, able to prescribe Suboxone and other buprenorphine products? The shortage of buprenorphine-certified doctors parallels shortages of mental health practitioners in general, including psychiatrists and addictionologists. Larger cities and areas near the east and west coasts are less likely to have shortages of doctors than are smaller and more-rural...
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A Deeper Look at Suboxone Diversion

In ‘Addiction Treatment with a Dark Side’, Deborah Sontag of the New York Times shared her observations of the clinical use of buprenorphine for treating opioid dependence, warts and all.  Readers of the Talk Zone know my bias—that buprenorphine/Suboxone is one of the only effective treatments for opioid dependence, and many patients are best-served by long-term, perhaps life-long treatment with buprenorphine.   But I read the article the article with interest because I know that Ms. Sontag ‘did her homework’, including visiting a...
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Addiction

Now the Tough Part

The forces of nature appear intent on reversing mankind’s progress toward better health.   An example is the ever-increasing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics.  A timeline of the existence of humans and bacteria shows that bacteria have been around for a very long time--- much longer than mammals, and much, much longer than humans.  In fact by the dawn mankind, bacteria had been thriving, relatively uninhibited, for over 2 billion years.

Modern humans have been around for 40,000-200,000 years or so, depending on...
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Addiction

Not Yet

I’m always impressed by the power of our ‘unconscious.’  I realize that people have a range of models for conceptualizing how our minds work;  my own combination of education, analysis, and observation has led to an understanding that ‘works for me.’

My conscious mind works in series, holding one or two thoughts at a time and proceeding in a somewhat-linear fashion.  The unconscious, on the other hand, is an amalgam of countless processes that never end, epiphenomena...
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Addiction

Guilt by Association?

A local District Attorney wrote to me last week to express his concern about the increased diversion of buprenorphine.  I often sense an undercurrent of tension when I cross paths with attorneys, aware of the different attitudes that we hold that arise from our different roles in society.

The DA wrote about the dramatic increase in overdose deaths in the Midwest.   Overdose scenes are often littered with a variety of substances, ranging from bags of heroin to...
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Addiction

Drug Testing: Not Always the Whole Answer

A recent exchange with a reader:

I have been on buprenorphine for 5 yrs.  Recently my doctor stated that my u/a t looked like I have been ‘loading my meds.’  He said my levels where ‘backwards’ and that would happen if I took just a few doses just before my appt.   My doc had me come back in two weeks to go over my next u/a, and again it came back funky.  So my doc starts having...
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Addiction

Brain Surgery for Opioid Dependence

Today I read about the stereotactic brain surgery used to treat opioid dependence in China over the past ten years.   The procedure is relatively straightforward; the patient’s skull is clamped in place while small holes are drilled, guided by computerized, 3-dimensional maps of the brain.  Probes are inserted deeply through brain tissue to the nucleus accumbens, where electric current destroys varying amounts of brain tissue.   Patients are...
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Addiction

Be Heard– Raise the Cap!

People who read this blog are aware of the shortage of physicians who can prescribe buprenorphine to treat people addicted to pain pills, even as an epidemic of addiction to heroin and pain pills devastates the heartland of the country.  In order to prescribe buprenorphine, physicians take a short course and obtain special certification.  To obtain certification, physicians must promise to treat no more than 30 patients at one time, a number that...
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