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Ed Yeates Reporting ...For the first time, FAMILY physicians will begin treating addiction to painkillers and heroin with a new anti-addiction drug.
The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment was in Salt Lake today to introduce the revolutionary new treatment program.
Research -- much of which occurred at the University of Utah Human Toxicology Lab -- shows the new application for buprenorphine (bue-pra-norphine) can now be safely used by a patient's own general practitioner to treat addiction.
Dr. Glenn Hanson, U Of U Pharmacology, Toxicology: “IT CAUSES THESE PEOPLE WHO ARE HEROIN ADDICTS OR ADDICTED TO OXYCODONE OR OTHER OPIATE DRUGS - IT CAN HELP MAINTAIN THEM SO THEY STOP USING THEIR HEROIN - GET THEM OFF SO THEY DON'T HAVE SERIOUS WITHDRAWALS."
The drug takes treatment to a whole new level. Instead of referring to a methadone clinic, first line defense falls into the hands of a family doctor, making treatment much more accessible.
With only eight hours of training -- a general practitioner can get a waiver from the Drug Enforcement Administration to treat up to 30 patients.
Westley Clark, M.D., Director, Center For Substance Abuse Treatment: "IF TEN THOUSAND PHYSICIANS DECIDED THEY WANTED TO GET THE WAIVER FOR THEIR DEA REGISTRATION - THEN YOU WOULD HAVE TEN THOUSAND TIMES 30. THAT'S A BIG NUMBER! THAT'S A BIG NUMBER."
The public still visualizes hard street users as the drug abusers -- perhaps overlooking that addiction to pain killers is much more widespread.
The Center for Mental Health Services and Substance Abuse Prevention says the time has simply come to change the way we do business -- the way we treat addiction.
Dr. Glenn Hanson, U Of U Pharmacology, Toxicology: "IN A WAY, THIS IS A TRIAL BALLOON. THIS IS REALLY OUR FIRST EFFORT TO GET THE PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIANS ENGAGED IN THE ISSUE OF ADDICTION."
"AND WHEN WE TRY TO SEGREGATE IT OUT, BAD THINGS HAPPEN. WE SEND BAD MESSAGES TO THE PUBLIC."
It's difficult to become addicted to Buprenorphine and patients can be easily weaned off it as therapy winds down.