The ongoing opioid crisis in many parts of the world is deepening, and news reports are counting more overdoses than ever before, and a huge rise in opioid addiction, as many battle with the end of the pandemic, and the current economic crisis we find ourselves in.
In North America especially, it is an incredibly dire situation, with people both young and old, male and female suffering from opioid drug addiction, with a number of different approaches being used by various states to try and tackle it.
In major cities like Los Angeles, and Toronto, clinics have been set up to help addicts administer opioids such as fentanyl safely, while also providing support and the correct treatments for any overdoses.
It’s saving lives. But not enough.
That’s why new studies that are recommending opioid addiction treatment be made available through pharmacies, could be a huge step forward in seeing the crisis begin to hit a downward slope.
The study, which took place in Rhode Island, a state suffering badly with fatal drug overdoses, found that a team at Rhode Island Hospital gave patients the opportunity to get buprenorphine at six different pharmacies, without the need of going to their doctor or attending a clinic prior to it.
Buprenorphine is a drug that is used to treat opioid use disorder, and the study found that 90% of those patients that took up the option to do so, continued to attend visits in order to enter recovery for the drug, compared to just 17% that received initial treatment in the more traditional, provider based care system.
Traci Green, the lead author of the study, stated in her report, “Going to a pharmacy can be more convenient and more routine than going to a clinic or a doctor’s office, especially for people who may lack transportation or face other barriers to getting care.”
She added, “Everyone goes to the pharmacy for something – a card for your mom’s birthday, some Halloween candy, some new nail clippers, or to refill an antibiotic.”
“And here you can get your buprenorphine or your syringes or anything else – this is a really helpful pathway for conditions that are extremely stigmatizing, to open the door to embrace our patients in different ways.”
Whether it will be rolled out in Rhode Island, or trialled elsewhere in the states is yet to be seen. However, the positive results from the study are certainly encouraging, and with more opportunities for opioid addicts to get the treatment they need, and in a manner that suits their convenience, whether it be at a clinic or at a pharmacy, it’s only going to ensure more patients get the treatment they need, saving lives and weaning a nation off one of the most devastating of drugs.