Opioid Crisis: Medication Playing Role in Ending Addiction
MEDFORD, Ore. — In Oregon, care facilities are turning to medication to help some patients struggling with opioid addiction. Medication-assisted Treatment has been shown to be effective for dealing with symptoms of withdrawal.
Doctors and nurses administer drugs such as buprenorphine to detoxify a patient's system and replace their opioid use. Dr. Brandon Lynch, a medical director at Asante Physician Partners in Medford, provides MAT in a primary-care setting with support from Jackson Care Connect.
Although it doesn't work for everyone, Lynch said the treatment is unique in that it works fairly quickly.
“[Some] go from being disabled from their condition - you know, unable to work, unable to meet their normal functions of life and their relationships and jobs - and relatively rapidly stabilize and start earning those relationships, earning their life back, getting jobs back,” Lynch said.
A series of studies have found half of patients treated with buprenorphine weren't using drugs after 18 months, and more than 60 percent were drug-free after 3.5 years. Lynch said it's important to combine this with other treatments, such as behavioral-health therapy.
Dr. Safina Koreishi is medical director of Columbia Pacific CCO, which facilitates MAT in Clatsop, Columbia and Tillamook counties. Her organization is hoping to expand the service on the North Coast, which she said will help communities better manage opioid-use disorder. As that happens, Koreishi said the next and most important step will be a shift in how opioid addiction is perceived.
"It is absolutely a chronic disease,” Koreishi said. “We should view it that way and need to treat it that way as a medical community and as a community at large in order to really help these people overcome and manage their disease."
Lynch agreed opioid addiction needs to be considered a health crisis.
"Still, a significant portion of our population sees it as a moral problem,” Lynch observed. “And until we change that, I think people are going to keep dying unnecessarily, quite frankly."
More information is available at DrugAbuse.gov.