By: Shannon Persad
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New Jersey Paramedics Now Equipped with Buprenorphine
The opioid epidemic continues to be on the rise in New Jersey, with a report of over 3,000 overdose deaths in 2018. However, in the summer of 2019, the New Jersey Health Department took action to reduce the number of those addicted to opioid drugs. The effort starts with equipping paramedics with buprenorphine. This bold move makes New Jersey the first state to do this, but will it work?
What is Buprenorphine?
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSA) states that buprenorphine, also known as suboxone, is a medicated assisted treatment (MAT) drug for those with opioid addictions. Doctors prescribe buprenorphine for those who have a dependency on opiate drugs, such as heroin and morphine.
Since approved by the FDA in 2002, suboxone usage has been on the rise to combat opioid dependency. Also, suboxone programs have emerged, with a combination of treatment and behavioral therapy available.
New Jersey Takes Action on Opioid Crisis
In June, New Jersey’s Health Commissioner signed an executive directive to equip paramedics with buprenorphine. On the scene of an overdose victim, naloxone, also known as Narcan, is administered to revive the person. Since someone revived from an opioid overdose will still feel severe withdrawal symptoms after, buprenorphine comes in to relieve those feelings.
Before paramedics can administer buprenorphine to a patient, they must first have the approval of the ER doctor. After the paramedic gives buprenorphine to the person, it’s billed on their insurance, similar to an asthma attack.
The New Jersey Health Department’s main objective is to reduce the withdrawal symptoms a person will feel after their revival from naloxone. The commissioner believes that opiate users will go back to drugs, seeking relief from withdrawal symptoms, but has faith that buprenorphine can minimize their dependency to do so.
Many have praised this move, seeing it as a possible answer to the opioid crisis in New Jersey. However, many also see this doing more harm than good.
Criticisms of Using Suboxone
Even though Suboxone is a part of many substance abuse treatment programs to reduce opioid dependency, the drug itself can have side effects.
For instance, abuse of suboxone can lead to euphoria, mimicking the opiates a person was addicted to before, but less intense. Many argue this does not cure opioid addiction but endorses it with another drug.
Is using a prescribed opiate the answer to opioid addiction? Let us know what you think.
To learn more about buprenorphine (Suboxone), click here.