NAMA Recovery of Tennessee | The Tennessee Statewide & Northwestern Georgia Chapter of NAMA-R

4.23.2013

Heroin Becoming More Popular as Opioids Become Pricier and Harder to Get

Are we facing a heroin epidemic?


Something I have LONG been preaching is that if Tennessee officials continue to ignore the science behind evidence-based treatments (like methadone and buprenorphine therapies) and don't work on expanding access to treatment we will soon have an unregulatable heroin epidemic on our hands.  I have seen first hand the skyrocketing costs of prescription analgesics on the streets lead to more and more opioid addicted people trying and/or seeking out heroin.  There was an article in USA Today that addressed the EXACT things I've long been warning..... Heroin is back. Is your neighborhood next? 

There was recently an article in the Maryville, Tennessee Daily Times talking about the prescription drug scourge being "out of control" and community leaders being left with the question: What CAN we do? Blount County, Tennessee (like far too many other counties in the state) has NO medication-assisted treatment (MAT) center/clinic for opioid addiction.  MAT for opioid addiction is one of the MOST evidence-based treatments in ALL of medicine. But what has happened in Tennessee is that the state, in laudable attempts to crack down on "pill mills" and other unethical medical practices, has categorized methadone clinics in with pain clinics and has "cracked down" on the very TREATMENT that is a solution to the opioid addiction epidemic!  When will Tennessee leaders put personal biases aside and look at the SCIENCE and FACTS concerning medication-assisted treatments? Not only is it the right thing to do, but we are getting to a point where state and community leaders can no longer afford to ignore the science around what the CDC has made clear is the MOST effective modality for the treatment of opioid addiction currently available!

Unlike prescriptions written by a physician and filled at a pharmacy, heroin has no way of being tracked or regulated. We are at a crossroads in Tennessee and the nation: Will we look at science and 40+ years of research and evidence that clearly shows us what works to effectively curb this epidemic before it gets worse, OR will we continue to stick our heads in the sand, ignore science, and allow a heroin epidemic the likes of which would make NYC in the 1970's and 80's look like child's play? My sincere hope is that we can bridge the communication (and understanding) gap between MAT patients, providers and advocates in Tennessee and those in positions of authority, whether elected or law enforcement, so that we can come together and deal with this crisis before it gets worse!

NAMA-Recovery of Tennessee, backed by the knowledge and resources of the National Alliance for Medication Assisted Recovery (the largest MAT advocacy organization in the world), extends our hand to work with all those who are serious about dealing with this soon-to-be heroin epidemic head on through the expansion of evidence-based treatments in the State of Tennessee.  What choice will our leaders make?  How much do they TRULY care about dealing with this threat in an effective way?  I suppose time will tell.....



zt

7 comments:

  1. I know where you are coming from. I have been in MMT treatment for a year, and since then I have seen a major jump in heroine use in my hometown. When I got clean, the rage was roxys. Since then, the price of prescription pills on the street has exploded! Thus, making heroine seem like a smart choice for addicts. Think about it, you can spend $80 on 2 30 mg. Roxys, and be high for a couple hours, or you can spend $20 to $40 on heroine and be high all day long. I live in Kentucky, and a few years ago heroine was unheard of in my town. Now, it is all you hear from the drug addicted people in our community. We also need more methadone clinics in eastern Kentucky to help curb this epidemic!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're spot on in your assessment, Crystal. I am partial to the fight in TN since I am the director of the NAMA-R chapter here, but there is a MAJOR need for the expansion of treatment in most all areas of the country. (I've yet to hear about a community that has "too many" treatment centers!) And what you have witnessed with the rise of heroin use in the opioid addicted populations where it was once unheard of speaks to the crisis we are facing if evidence-based treatments that WORK aren't expanded until it is available for every single person on-demand when needed!

      Thanks for reading!

      zt

      Delete
  2. ZAC, WHEN THE MEETING TAKES PLACE IN NASHVILLE ON JUNE 26TH, WILL YOU HAVE ACCESS RIGHT AWAY AS TO THE APPROVAL OR DENIAL FOR HAVING A CLINIC HERE IN JOHNSON CITY?
    I HAVE A VERY HIGH INTEREST IN KNOWING THE ANSWER TO THIS.
    AS A MOTHER WHO HAS LOST A SON AND A DAUGHTER TO DRUGS AND ALCOHOL, I HAVE A VESTED INTEREST IN SEEING THIS COME TO PASS.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Pat. The vote will take place at the end of the hearing, and we will know right away if the CON has been approved or denied. I will report the outcome here on the blog via my mobile device as SOON as it is handed down... So keep an eye on the blog. You can also "Follow by email" up about mid-way on the right hand side of this blog by entering your email address and as soon as things are published here they will be delivered to your inbox. Thanks for your support... Have you sent a letter to the TN Health Services & Development Agency in SUPPORT of this proposed treatment center yet? It's too late to mail one, but you can send one via email if you haven't already to Melanie Hill, the Executive Director of the TN Health Services & Development Agency, at melanie.hill@tn.gov ... And PLEASE encourage any and EVERYone you know who supports expanding access to evidence-based treatments in upper-East Tennessee to send an email of support as well!

      Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi zac...excited to hear the outcome of the hearing. I'm on atwatchdog constantly for updates (15plusyrsonmmt) & I have sent an email to Melanie Hill in support of JC Clinic/CON. Best of luck...I know you've worked hard!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Numerous authorities in the addiction treatment field agree that medication-assisted treatment is highly effective for those seeking heroin recovery. It would be a benefit for community and governmental leaders to discover this is the best chance of a successful outcome for the impending heroin epidemic.

    ReplyDelete

Thoughts Comments Questions