Treatment for Addicts Made Easier

Addiction treatment guidelines for prescribing buprenorphine relaxed

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Regulators have relaxed rules on prescribing a medication used to treat opioid addiction, with the hopes that the move will help doctors successfully treat the condition in the United States.

At a recent conference, the director of the US Office of National Drug Control Policy spoke about the US government’s multi-pronged approach to reducing opioid addiction in America.

Recent changes to the law have made it easier for doctors to prescribe a medication - called buprenorphine - to help treat opioid addiction.

Additional efforts to reduce addiction included more youth education and treatment programs, better prescription pill monitoring and more healthcare provider education on treating addiction.

"Seek treatment for an addiction to painkillers."

This month, at the American Medical Association’s National Advocacy Conference in Washington, DC, director of the US Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowski, talked about prescription opioid abuse.

In December 2012, the White House altered the rules for prescribing buprenorphine.

Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic, or manufactured, opioid used to treat people addicted to other opioids. There are several medications on the market that contain buprenorphine including Subutex and Suboxone. Buprenorphine acts as a substitute for prescription opioids to help a person taper off of opioids during addiction treatment.

The White House ruling gives doctors a bit more freedom when prescribing buprenorphine to patients.

“Our nation is struggling with a prescription drug epidemic and we must take advantage of every tool at our disposal to address this public health and safety crisis,” Director Kerlikowski said in his statement about the policy change. “As with many other chronic illnesses, substance use disorders may require medications like buprenorphine to treat successfully.”

At the National Advocacy Conference, Director Kerlikowski highlighted increasing efforts to fight addiction through public health programs. Education of young people as well as treatment programs for people addicted to prescription painkillers have already made a huge difference in fighting addiction and will continue to do so in the future, Director Kerlikowski said. 

Director Kerlikowski also spoke about the effectiveness of prescription monitoring programs, which were designed to prevent people from getting extra prescriptions by going to multiple doctors, as well as to prevent doctors from overprescribing opioids to patients.

Part of Director Kerlikowski’s plan of action includes educating healthcare professionals on addiction screening, addiction treatment and safe practices for opioid prescribing.

The American Medical Association’s website has free online training videos available for doctors on safe opioid prescribing practices.

The American Medical Association National Advocacy Conference was held in Washington, DC, on February 13. The Department of Health and Human Services released the new buprenorphine prescribing guidelines in December 2012.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 25, 2013
Last Updated:
February 28, 2013