I remember standing on my tippy toes to be eye to eye with the kitchen counter, trying my best not to spill as I poured the orange juice into the glass. Something about the acidity would settle my mom’s stomach, slightly easing her wrenching symptoms of heroin withdrawal—something akin to the stomach flu mixed with food poisoning, but a hundred times worse.
My mother was one of the millions of people who suffer from the disease of addiction in this country. In the decades since my childhood, we have made great strides in treatment: we are now fortunate to count buprenorphine, methadone, and extended release naltrexone in our toolkit to effectively treat opioid use disorders. I can’t help but wonder how my mother’s life might have been different, how my childhood might have been different, if she had had access to the treatments now available.
Medication Assisted Treatment can be lifesaving, and must be made more widely available, as Congress’ bipartisan budget and Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) prioritize. The medications currently available do not work for everyone though, and we must make developing new and innovative approaches to treatment a top public health priority. Medication side-effects, both physical and emotional, and the logistics of accessing treatment, can be significant barriers to patients as they desperately try to rebuild their lives and find recovery.
Due to the stigma of this disease, we tend to write off patients who are struggling, dismiss their challenges as lack of motivation. In no other disease space do we do this: when a diabetes patient is experiencing challenges with their insulin, or when a cardiac patient is having trouble with their blood pressure medication, we readily provide alternate therapies.
Read more at Inside Sources