No, bupe is not a wonder drug, sorry

2/9/2015, The Wonder Drug


I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there’s a lot more to addiction than just an addict’s drug of choice, whether it’s heroin or opiates.  Most stories I read about addiction are about the use of two or three drugs (sometimes more), all of which have addicting qualities (including alcohol). Buprenorphine may help with an opiate or heroin addiction, but it may not help with an addiction to, say, Xanax or Valium.

I’ve read claims that bupe stops the craving for opiates, but to me, this sounds a little too good to be true.  More like it moderates the cravings, making them easier to manage.  There are also claims that bupe can’t get you high, but that’s not true either.  The fact is that the underlying reasons for addiction aren’t addressed with bupe — medication is just one tool in the tool box. And you can’t repair something with just one tool.  (Well, maybe you can, I’m no handywoman.)

Sure, it’s great that the government wants general practitioners to dispense Suboxone, but what do GPs know about addiction?  Heck, what do specialists in the addiction and rehabilitation industry really know about addiction?  (Like the new drug czar being a former alcoholic means he knows about heroin or opioid addiction.)

It brings to mind a pain doctor I saw at one time, when during our first appointment, I asked her what she knew about TMJ.  She told me she didn’t know anything about TMJ.  So then I asked her, “How can you treat my pain if you know nothing about TMJ?”  Her response was, “Because no one else will.”  That was back in the 90s, when most doctors gave anti-depressants to any woman complaining of pain.

Yes, Suboxone and Narcan will bring down the rates of drug overdoses, but only slightly.  If you look at states (like New Mexico) that have better access than states like Kentucky, you’ll see that these addiction drugs can in no way be defined as “wonder” drugs.  They are only a small piece of the puzzle, although “experts” like Kolodny of PFROP and the media tout these drugs as the thing that will save us all.  It’s not only short-sighted, it’s a lie.

And while addiction treatment centers and clinics are springing up like Walmarts, most of them are based on old theories and practices that don’t work.  I’ve only read about a very few that treat the whole person, not just the drug addiction.  The fact that a lot of these clinics are staffed by doctors who claim to be specialists makes the problem even worse.

Without access to affordable treatment, no matter what that might include, drug poisonings and suicides will continue to escalate.  Those who suffer from addiction know more about drugs than the “experts,” and will find others to abuse.  And they’ll probably be just as dangerous as heroin or meth.

There may even come a time when bupe is blamed for not doing enough (because it’s just a drug, after all, not a miracle cure). Blamed for additional underground market activity, because… the drug war.  At some point, politicians will come to the realization that, no, bupe isn’t a wonder drug — it’s just another methadone.  Big Pharma (and its minions) lied again, so the DEA will happily have to start restricting access again.  Now, methadone has a bad reputation, and one day in the future, bupe will too.  It’s inevitable.

And the drug war continues…

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