The 2nd meeting of the NAMA Recovery of Tennessee and Private Clinic North jointly-sponsored Patient Advisory Committee to be held on Monday July 22nd at 11:00am!
"Doing drugs can be plenty harmful. The same goes for other activities, from big wave surfing to heli-skiing. But our tendency to overestimate the risks of drugs hampers our ability to tackle addiction."
This video does a tremendous job of showing the human angle of harm reduction efforts and medication-assisted treatment. With all the issues we face and areas in which improvements are needed here in the United States, sometimes it is important to step back and recognize just how thankful we should be for what we do have. This video features a patient from an area of Eastern Europe where methadone therapy for opioid addiction is mostly unavailable. Political leaders of the world’s nations too often forget the factual angle that is most important when they block access to harm reduction initiatives and/or addiction medicines: Exposure to diseases, attack on the street, overdose, and so forth are all reduced substantially for most patients on methadone. They have a better chance to stay alive. Critics of methadone, in their pursuit of the wickedness of being "on" something, some seem too often to forget this human angle. The death rate, arrest rate, illness rate of the opioid addicted patient drops substantially when they enroll in methadone treatment. Their legitimate employment rate, the taxes they pay, and their immune system functioning, all rise.
The video also features a patient from Vietnam who attests to the miracles of methadone maintenance treatment. The human angle of which I continue to speak is evident in this Vietnamese man’s testimony. His life and his normalcy have been restored. He is once again a productive, contributing member of society.
And while we do largely have access to methadone maintenance treatment and other harm reduction initiatives and projects in the United States, there are still people suffering from the disease of opioid addiction right here in Tennessee who can not access treatment. Many Tennessee residents have no better access to this evidence-based and proven effective treatment than patients in countries that have largely banned methadone for maintenance treatment like Russia and Japan. We have more than 40 years of research and data proving the effectiveness of medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction yet the State of Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency just denied a Certificate of Need for a proposed medication-assisted opioid treatment program in Johnson City, Tennessee and the Tri Cities area. The chairman of the committee seems to think that people can still receive treatment “if they want it,” acknowledging the 100+ miles round-trip trip to the nearest opioid treatment program, because “they can drive.”
What about those patients who, due to a disability or other condition, are unable to drive? What about patients whose socio-economic situation is such that they do not have the resources for the gas such a drive, on a daily basis for the first several months of treatment, would require? Or those patients who do not have access to a reliable, dependable vehicle that could make such a trip on a daily basis? Even more of a moral outrage is the thought of opioid addicted pregnant women, knowing that methadone treatment is the standard of care for pregnant patients, having to make such a trip on a daily basis in the last months and weeks of gestation when many pregnant women should stay as close as possible to their healthcare provider(s) in the event of labor or emergency complications. The six people who voted “no” to this Certificate of Need seem to have forgotten, or at the very least ignored, the human angle, as they have shown that personal biases and politics trump the influence of science and medical facts in their decision making. The State of Tennessee Health Services & Development Agency has made it abundantly clear that they could care less about the opioid addiction and overdose epidemic and related deaths as they have effectively blocked the opening of a treatment center that would provider the most evidence-based and effective treatment and solution for this crisis that is currently available.
Why is the State of Tennessee “punishing” its residents in the upper eastern part of the state instead of doing all they can to “support” these people? I wish I had the answer.
“Support. Don’t Punish.” is a global advocacy campaign and you can visit their website by clicking HERE.
This is your chance to have YOUR say and give YOUR input on the federal guidelines for opioid treatment programs and accreditation organizations!
See the announcement from SAMHSA below:
Help Influence Federal Guidelines for Opioid Treatment
You can now comment on the Federal Guidelines for Opioid Treatment. This preliminary set of guidelines provides detailed information to opioid treatment programs (OTPs) and accreditation organizations about what they need to comply with new requirements under the Code of Federal Regulations (42 CFR Part 8).
As part of efforts to finalize the guidelines, representatives from OTPs, accreditation organizations, patient groups, the medical community, and interested members of the public are asked to review and comment on these preliminary guidelines.
All comments submitted by the deadline, July 16, 2013, will be carefully considered.
Mailing Your Comments
Please allow sufficient time for mailed comments to be received before the close of the comment period. Written comments should be mailed to the following address only:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Attention: DPT Federal Register Representative
Division of Pharmacologic Therapies
1 Choke Cherry Road, Room 7-1044
Rockville, MD 20857