The risk of developing an Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) is high among individuals who take narcotic painkillers for a longer period. Prescriptions to these substances are highly controlled due to the addictive potential it poses its patients especially when intake reaches more than three days.
Findings show that about 12% of patients prescribed to take these substances in treating chronic pain develop OUD and about 30% of them fall into substance abuse. With more than two million people in the United States diagnosed with OUD, the country reinforces treatment programs that are safe and accessible to these individuals.
What Treatment Programs are Available for OUD
The growing number of problems related to OUD in the United States gave rise to a national epidemic which the country continues to battle for more than a decade. The US government responds to this national health crisis by reinforcing treatment programs whose procedures are closely monitored to ensure quality and safe healthcare among patients.
These two programs can be identified as Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) and Office-based Opioid Treatment (ObOT). Both approaches to treatment focus on Medically-Assisted Treatment (MAT), a combination of prescription medications, counseling, and therapies in treating patients.
OTPs are accredited and certified by the Substance Abuse and Medical Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) while ObOTs are provided by physicians qualified under the provisions of the Drug Addiction Treatment Act (DATA) of 2000. The DATA waiver requires physicians to work closely with SAMHSA and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
What Medicines Are Prescribed for Treatment
MAT is a holistic approach to treatment. In other words, it is not only about medical prescriptions but also about behavioral modification activities. However, the part of the prescription is crucial because this involves substance antagonists which are still susceptible to addiction but are safer because they act on the body more slowly than other substances.
The two substance antagonists prescribed to treat OUD from detox until the recovery processes are Methadone and Buprenorphine. Antagonists are substances that block the effect of narcotic substances in the nerve cells, which results in preventing the body from getting high. With proper administration, these substances can limit their addictive factor.
Methadone and Buprenorphine work effectively during detox treatment, the process of getting rid of the narcotics in the body. Since they all belong to the same class of medicines as narcotic analgesics, Methadone and Buprenorphine can deceive the brain by believing they are still receiving the addictive substances. This is known as replacement therapy.
The advantage of this prescription includes more manageable withdrawal symptoms, reduced craving for the substance, and a more stabilized body willing to engage actively in other activities such as counseling and therapy. This really sheds light on every individual trapped in the darkness of addiction. This prescription may take at least 12 months.
How are OTP and ObOT Different
Between 2017 and 2018, 17 out of 38 states in the US experienced a decreased rate of overdose deaths caused by OUD. This proves how the efforts of the government are making advancements. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) continues to push better access to treatment and recovery programs and effective medications for treatment.
OTPs and ObOT, despite some challenges in the way they are accepted by communities, have been extremely helpful in progressing through the country’s national health crisis. Government support to MAT, the proven gold standard for treatment of OUD, is also another factor to note.
Let us now take a closer look at how these two – OTPs and ObOT are distinct from each other:
OTP provides all healthcare services on-site and this requires patients to visit their physicians in their clinics daily. All OTP procedures are highly monitored by SAMHSA. They check on how medications are effectively working among patients as well as how progress is made through counseling and therapies.
ObOT, on the other hand, allows patients to administer their prescriptions at home but they may also choose to take them on site. Treatment in ObOT closely resembles the nature of outpatient healthcare services since appointments with physicians, counselors, and healthcare service providers are usually scheduled.
The Healthcare Providers
OTP is a structured organization that includes licensed physicians – the one with a special license to prescribe narcotic analgesics – nurses, counselors, and healthcare staff. SAMHSA would always look at the credentials of these individuals with high regard. It is a requirement for them to be well-trained and equipped in giving the best services possible.
ObOT, with the DATA 2000 waiver, opens a wider sphere of treatment by allowing physicians, nurses, and professional healthcare providers to prescribe medicines that can be taken at home by the patients. In order to qualify, they have to join a 24-hour training course that includes an 8-hour session solely on Buprenorphine treatment.
OTPs are free to prescribe any medications appropriate to the patients. Specifically, they are allowed to prescribe either Methadone or Buprenorphine to their patients. ObOT, on the other hand, is only limited to prescribing Buprenorphine and Suboxone, a combination of Buprenorphine and Naloxone.
Naloxone comes from a different family of substances and it does not contain an addictive potential. It works by reversing the effect of the substance. It is mainly for treating symptoms of an overdose and not for OUD. Suboxone is the more appropriate medication for treating OUD.
Overall, the enforcement of ObOT is a means that opens to more accessible and flexible treatment options for individuals with OUD. Despite its limitations, it can work as efficiently and effectively as licensed OTPs.
These two treatments are really valuable in the hope of winning against the countries’ current health crisis. As the government continues to expand in research and extend awareness about the extreme consequences of substance abuse among people, the stronger the hope for coming out of this hurdle is victorious.
Now is the best time for you or your loved one to undergo treatment to overcome narcotic use disorder. If you or anyone you know is struggling with OUD, don’t hesitate to seek professional help now!