On September 28, the Cherry Hill Sun published an editorial that was titled “The next steps in the opioid abuse fight” following New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to direct $200 million to address the drug crisis. The paper praises both the state government and the White House for steering financial resources, but fails to mention treating the disease of addiction.
Dr. Michael W. Shore, Medical Director of the Malvern Institute Cherry Hill outpatient center, wrote a response on what is needed to effectively address the opioid epidemic:
To the Editor:
I am the Past President of the NJ Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), and Current Region IV Director of ASAM, and serve on their Board of Directors. You characterize many “next steps” to address this worsening epidemic, but the absence of any comments on the State of the Art, evidenced based treatment for this overwhelming problem is glaring. Study after study unequivocally supports medication assisted treatment as a necessary component to vastly improve retention in treatment and positive outcomes. This is the position of our society, the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and many other stakeholders in promoting best practices. These medications include Naltrexone (Vivitrol), Buprenorphine (suboxone and others) and Methadone. We all support for appropriate patients 12 step recovery, outpatient ongoing treatment, counselling, recovery coaches and sober living housing. However, as all clinicians working in the field would attest to, this disease of opiate addiction is especially pernicious and relapse is common. Often the first sign of relapse is overdose and death. This can be prevented by the judicious use of medication assisted treatment. This past year over 60,000 people, often our friends, relatives and neighbors succumbed to overdose deaths. These could be prevented if only these medications would be utilized along with traditional recovery approaches. We must do a better job.
Michael W. Shore, M.D., DLFAPA, DFASAM