|By PR Newswire||
|March 4, 2014 12:42 PM EST||
NEW YORK, March 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from a heroin overdose has generated discussion regarding medical treatment to prevent heroin deaths. Buprenorphine is a medication used to treat addiction to heroin and other narcotic pain killers. It was found in Mr. Hoffman's apartment. Buprenorphine is the opioid, or narcotic part of the medications Subutex and Suboxone. It is used for what is called Opioid Agonist Therapy (OAT). It can be thought of as a safer and office based alternative to methadone. Methadone, by law, can only be administered in a methadone clinic. Suboxone can be written in a private doctor's office, and filled at a pharmacy just like any other prescription. Patients that start buprenorphine therapy usually describe themselves as "feeling normal again". One's life changes from dysfunctional back to functional. Suboxone also blocks the effects of other narcotics, so this provides another safeguard against abusing heroin or other narcotics such as oxycodone.
Suboxone is taken as either a tablet or a small film that is dissolved under the tongue. "I think that it works great for patients that were abusing pills by mouth or by inhaling them nasally. The medication kind of acts as a 'one-for-one' replacement. However, in my medical practice, I have noticed that intravenous users can have a harder time remaining abstinent even with Suboxone therapy. Taking a tablet or a film is very different than the entire experience of preparing and injecting an opiate such as heroin," said Dr. Kloda.
Buprenorphine only works if you take it. Patients that are prescribed Suboxone can choose to not take it and go back to their previous drug use. So, buprenorphine can be a "wonder drug" for many, and prevent heroin deaths. However, overdoses on heroin and other narcotic painkillers are not always avoidable. The sad truth is like with other diseases, some people do not recover, and unfortunately they die. The same holds true for the disease of addiction.
SOURCE Stuart Kloda, MD
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