7/2004, Impaired Driving Incidents Expected with New Heroin Treatment


Under the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000, approved physicians can prescribe buprenorphine to treat up to 30 patients. With the prescription, addicts will receive a 30-day supply of the drug and are allowed five to six months of refills. Buprenorphine will be sold under two names: Subutex for the initial stage of treatment, and Suboxone, which also includes the drug naloxone, for maintenance treatment.

Before dispensing the narcotic, physicians must undergo eight hours of training and register with the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and the DEA. Under the regulations, doctors are not allowed to provide buprenorphine for pain – only opiate addiction…

In later stages of an overdose, buprenorphine may cause a person to have floppy limbs, blue lips, and an inability to regain consciousness leading to a coma.

Testing for Methadone or Buprenorphine: Law enforcement officers and prosecutors will also need to make a special testing request to their drug toxicology laboratories. No one should assume that a screen of blood or urine for opiates would detect methadone or buprenorphine. The results of a special test for buprenorphine can help prosecutors secure a conviction and treatment for the offender, and it can allow the offender’s physician and other treatment professionals to better treat and monitor the driver.

Enforcement, prosecution, and court-monitored treatment have a major role in keeping drug abuse in check on and the impaired driver off the roads. With the advent of this new heroin treatment program law enforcement and prosecutors need to prepare for the abuse and incidents of impaired driving.

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