The Obama administration made an announcement this week which includes initiatives focusing on aiding the ongoing battle against prescription drug and heroin abuse. On Tuesday, it was announced that the administration will be making it easier for doctors to use anti-addiction drugs to combat opioid and heroin abuse addiction.
These efforts are included in a package of new initiatives which includes additional measures focusing on expanding addiction treatment and increases in coverage for mental health and substance abuse services. Overdose deaths from opioids continue to be the leading cause of unintentional death for Americans. It is estimated that every 19 minutes someone dies from an opioid overdose.
The administration’s attack on the opioid epidemic includes measures focuse on medication-assisted treatment using drugs like buprenorphine and methadone. These drugs are used to help manage a patients’ recovery and ease withdrawal symptoms from opioids. Combined with behavioral treatment these drugs are often part of treatment plan for patients seeking help for opioid addiction. Physicians are currently limited by law to prescribing buprenorphine to just 100 patients per doctor. As part of their effort, the White House is increasing this cap to 200 patients per doctor.
Additional efforts include increased access to naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug, federally funded needle exchange programs, and an initiative by the Department of Justice toward policing and investigating heroin distribution.