Association Between Heroin Abuse And Opioid Prescribing Policies
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 20, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Dr. Michael Lowenstein has certainly heard the notion that restrictive prescribing policies on opioid painkillers have fueled the ongoing heroin epidemic. However, a recent review of current data in the New England Journal of Medicine finds little support for that claim. Dr. Lowenstein depends on an accurate epidemiological portrait as part of developing and maintaining best treatment practices at the Southern California treatment center – the only center of its kind to employ the Waismann Method® for rapid detox and medical opiate detoxification.
“We need to replace pre-conceived ideas and judgments about mental illness with education and professional ‘individualized’ care,” says Registered Addiction Specialist Clare Waismann. “We need to stop treating the symptoms and the consequences and start treating the patients as a whole.”
The NEJM review article puts both the heroin epidemic and the abuse of prescription opioids into proper perspective. In 2014, more than 10 million people reported using prescription painkillers nonmedically – that is, without a prescription or to achieve a “high.” Emergency room visits stemming from opioid misuse rose 153% between 2004 and 2011, and the rate of fatal overdoses has quadrupled since 2000.
Underneath these statistics lies a troubling reality – chronic pain is a real and so far poorly understood public health problem. It’s an invisible yet profoundly debilitating condition, and many of its sufferers depend on prescription painkillers to be functional. The unfortunate – and demonstrably wrong – association between prescription opioids and heroin use therefore adds one more element of suspicion to an already stigmatized population.
The NEJM review concludes that only a small group of users make the transition from nonmedical prescription opioids to heroin. These individuals typically abuse opioids frequently and have developed a marked dependence and addiction. While some observers have claimed that tighter opioid prescribing policies have exacerbated the situation, the data does not support that argument. The surge in heroin abuse and overdose deaths preceded every major change to opioid prescribing practices.
Dr. Lowenstein continues to study, evolve and improve upon the treatment practices offered by the Waismann Method Medical Group. For nearly two decades, they’ve been the top choice for opiate detoxification, providing a safe and comforting environment where people are treated with the utmost respect and dignity. A multi-disciplinary team works with each patient to develop an individualized and evidence-based treatment plan.
The Waismann Method incorporates anesthesia-assisted detox in a full service accredited hospital. Time has consistently shown the effectiveness and safety of this approach; its key advantage is the mitigation of opiate withdrawals, the fear of which keeps many people in the grips of addiction. The rapid detox process is carefully adjusted based on each patient’s baseline health status. Following an overnight stay in the ICU for observation and continuing care, patients transition to the recovery retreat to maximize the results of the rapid detox procedure.
Despite operating from only a single Southern California location, the Waismann Method Medical Group attracts patients from around the world. Testimonials from individuals who have dramatically turned their lives around are clear proof of the method’s value: “There is no question that the Waismann Method is the best,” remarks a recovered Suboxone patient. “Stop debating and get well. This program changed my life, and it was worth every penny.”