Media Bias Against Suboxone

First Posted 2.8.2014

After Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, I anticipated a flood of articles describing the ineffectiveness of non-medication treatments for opioid dependence.  I assumed the media would finally report on the need for long-term treatment of a long-term illness.  Instead we read more articles describing Suboxone (i.e. buprenorphine) as a ‘bad drug’, since Hoffman may have used the drug to reduce withdrawal between heroin binges.

Taking buprenorphine within a few days of using heroin blocks most of heroin’s effects and makes overdose much less likely– a fact rarely reported.  Out of about 400,000 overdose deaths over the past ten years, only 400 deaths included buprenorphine as one drug in the fatal mix– a stunning statistic that calls out for more life-sustaining buprenorphine treatment, not less.  In most of those cases, death would not occurred had there been more buprenorphine in the victim’s bloodstream.

Vivitrol is the brand name for a monthly, injectable form of naltrexone that appeals to a superficial approach to opioid dependence.  Naltrexone advocates focus on the months of abstinence when patients are taking the medication, often during forced compliance mandated by drug courts. Rarely questioned is the long-term effectiveness (or lack thereof) of naltrexone for reducing the morbidity and mortality of opioid dependence.

Another Suboxone Argument

It has been awhile since I posted a give and take with a misguided reader. I’ve taken that interval as good news that education is winning over misinformation.

But then I read this comment.  I didn’t fix her typos, as I think they provide insight into her opinion:

Must-Read Article About Buprenorphine

For about 600 reasons I generally avoid the Huffington Post.  But one of their writers did an absolutely perfect job of describing the need for buprenorphine, and the failure of ‘traditional’ treatments.  The article is entitled Dying to be Free.

The challenge, though, is getting the article into the hands of policy-makers.  It is too late for some areas, where the damage has already been done (I find myself humming the old Pretenders tune about Ohio).  When it comes to buprenorphine, too many DA’s, judges, and politicians seem to develop opinions from inaccurate data, and then cling to those opinions no matter what they learn after the fact.  To put it another way… the idiots will always be idiots.  So if anyone reading this post has a relationship with an open-minded politician, now is the time to share the Huff Po story.