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Overdose Panel Explores Medications For Addiction Treatment

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There are a couple of medications on the market now to help people who are addicted to heroin or prescription painkillers – methadone and Suboxone (the...

There are a couple of medications on the market now to help people who are addicted to heroin or prescription painkillers – methadone and Suboxone (the trade name for buprenorphine). But obtaining the latter can sometimes be a challenge. A community discussion planned for tonight delves into efforts to improve access.

The governor’s overdose prevention task force continues its series of public meetings to gather input for a strategic plan due later this year. Tonight’s gathering at the Miriam Hospital in Providence includes panel discussions about improving access to medications that help addicts safely withdraw and abstain from opioids.

Task force co-chair Dr. Jody Rich says Rhode Islanders have good access to one of these medications,  methadone. But when it comes to Suboxone, “We are way behind the prescribing capacity we need in this state," Rich said. "We have less than 80 prescribers that have completed the eight hour training in order to get the waiver to prescribe this medication. And that’s just woefully inadequate.”

Federal law limits the number of patients a doctor can treat with Suboxone to 30 in the first year, and 100 in later years. Unlike methadone, Suboxone can be taken at home, and prescribed by a family doctor. Rich says patients may prefer one over the other, depending on their needs.

The panel takes place Monday, Sept. 28 from 7 - 8:30 pm at The Miriam Hospital in Providence.

OxyCodone, an opioid prescription painkiller, can be highly addictive. Opioid addiction is a primary driver behind Rhode Island's overdose crisis.
OxyCodone, an opioid prescription painkiller, can be highly addictive. Opioid addiction is a primary driver behind Rhode Island's overdose crisis.