Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services decided to publish "Practice and Guidelines for the Administration of Buprenorphine for Treating Opioid Use Disorder" to expand access to medication-assisted treatments (MAT) by exempting physicians from certain requirements needed to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment.

Since 2020, more than 83,000 drug overdoses have occurred in the United States, the highest number ever recorded in a 12-month period according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The increase in overdose fatalities only signifies the need for treatment services to be more accessible for people at risk and this action will expand access to availability of treatments (such as buprenorphine) for opioid use disorder treatment

Treating Patients with Suboxone

By choosing a Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) detox it can help aid in preventing the use and purchasing of opioids; but the buprenorphine itself is a narcotic. Because each Suboxone dose does stay int eh body for weeks, traditional detoxing from this drug can result in over a month of pain, sleeplessness, anxiety, and other withdrawal symptoms.

At the Coleman Institute, we recognize the fear and frustration of replacing one addiction with another and the challenge patients face when trying to detox from Suboxone. With patients who have adapted the Accelerated Opioid Detox program, it can meet the unique needs of individuals who are ready to come off Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone). By using non-addictive drugs, we're able to completely remove the narcotics attached to patients' brain receptors.

Once the initial detox is complete, our team will work with you to treat any post-acute withdrawal symptoms to ensure that you are on the best road to recovery and complete healing. It is important to note that because the outpatient treatment takes days instead of weeks or months, there is very little disruption to your day-to-day lifestyle.

Suboxone Treatment Rules

When determining rules for Suboxone treatment, the government intentionally chose a design that was different from methadone programs. Methadone was approved as a treatment for opiate addiction around 1970. Because it is an addictive and abused drug, it could only be given out in licensed clinics. Restrictive regulations were put in place, including required daily attendance at the clinic, and supervised consumption of medications. In some ways, the regulations contributed to the problem.

It is difficult for patients on methadone to travel or hold a job, and they are regularly exposed to other actively using drug addicts. In order to avoid the same consequences, rules for Suboxone were designed to allow a physician in private practice to prescribe Suboxone type products for up to one month or longer. There were, however, no requirements for counseling, drug testing, or any other case management services.

The Suboxone program has been somewhat successful and has allowed many patients to change their drug addiction/dependent lifestyle. However, because there are very few regulations, we are experiencing an influx of clinics which provide prescriptions for Suboxone with minimal psychological help for the underlying addiction. Some of these clinics only take cash, spend minimal amounts of time with the patients, and do little more than supply drug addicts with their drugs. Without these clinics providing any other resources or encouragements to transition to a sober life, it is sometimes hard to tell a difference between them and people on the street who sell their products for cash.

Current Suboxone Regulations

Thankfully, the latest regulations will be an improvement to the industry. As of October 2020, the DEA regulations require that a legitimate prescription must include the full name and address of the patient. Additionally, any prescription issues must include a DEA registration number and a facility number to ensure credibility.

Providers must be an Addiction Medicine Specialist with extra credentials, and they have to be in a qualified practice setting. The qualified practice has to accept insurance, provide case management, and be available for emergencies. These are major improvements that will hopefully change the Suboxone process and enhance access for patients who need treatment.