Tom Price Debates Using Opioids to Treat Opioids

There is a general consensus in the United States that opioid addiction is not a ‘curable’ disease but rather a disease that requires treatment. The notion of using opioids to battle addiction to opioids has had considerable opposition over the years. Recently this method has come under scrutiny by Tom Price, the new Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Trump administration. He has stated that these methods only diminish the addiction and are not a step towards finding a cure.

A National Crisis No Longer in the Shadows

Meanwhile awareness of this epidemic has come to the surface in main stream society in the United States, especially in West Virginia, where they have highest death rates related to all available forms of opioids. Regardless if it is heroin or prescribed medication the outcry for a solution is ringing in the ears of the people who make important decisions.

On May 9, in West Virginia, Tom Price shared his opinions. He said “Folks need to be cured so they can be productive members of society,” and went on to say, “If we’re just substituting one opioid for another, we’re not moving the dial much.” As bold as this is, his remarks however do lack scientific substance. 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is not backing down in their support of using drugs like buprenorphine and methadone to fight opioids. In their opinion this method is the first line of defense and thus a crucial step towards recovery. Considering their experience in this area of treatment, they have a considerable edge in this debate and continue to treat patients in this manner. 

The Nation Is In A Crisis 

  • U.S. opioid related deaths in to 2015 are 4 times that from 2000 
  • 2015 reports indicate more than 30,000 deaths from overdose

Opioids Have Many Names

  • Heroin
  • OxyContin
  • Hydrocodone
  • Fentanyl
  • Vicodin

The NIDA has shown that addicts can return to being productive citizens while under the treatment of methadone, buprenorphine and other less powerful opioids. These methods are primarily  used to stabilize addicts and is the first step in the recovery process. Given some of these facts, Tom Price’s remarks have fallen to deaf ears due to his insubstantial experience in the actual process of  ‘curing’ opioid addiction.

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