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Letter: Better addiction care is available

Oxycodone tablets being dispenses in a pharmacy on

Oxycodone tablets being dispenses in a pharmacy on Jan. 12, 2012. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

I read with interest Lane Filler's column regarding the good and bad news in the fight against the opioid drug epidemic ["A tragic silver lining in drug numbers," Opinion, Jan. 29].

Filler writes that the relapse rate after coming out of rehabilitation is at least 75 percent. He concludes that "we're not doing enough, but in many cases, nothing helps." I disagree. There is effective treatment for a great majority.

Well-established medical interventions are being used by just a minimal number of health professionals. Suboxone, a drug used to treat opiate addiction, is the best-known intervention. It works well in about half of patients; however, the quality of Suboxone providers varies greatly.

Many health professionals overlook that the patient is using another drug at the same time. Or they also prescribe sedatives or sleeping pills, which leads to poor outcomes.

In addition, there is a general lack of awareness and use of naltrexone, another medication, which can profoundly help patients reduce cravings and maintain abstinence. A knowledgeable provider will know of other interventions, too.

Filler goes on to discuss the benefits of more rehabilitation resources. While this would be beneficial, we really need better rehabilitation treatment that is evidence based, incorporates the full scope of medical and behavioral therapies, and avoids having traditional psychiatric and addiction care split among several providers.

Dr. Stuart Wasser, Rockville Centre

Editor's note: The writer is an addiction specialist.


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