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Wed Aug 1, 2012, 07:37 AM

The Anti-Addiction Pill That's Big Business For Drug Dealers

The government spent tens of millions of dollars developing a pill to combat opiate addiction. It's inexpensive, safe, long lasting, and highly effective, except it's illegal for doctors to actually prescribe it to treat opiate addiction.

Good episode of NPR's Planet Money that looks at why addicts have to turn to the same street dealers who fed their addiction to treat their addiction.

There's a pill called Suboxone that treats addiction to heroin and pain pills like oxycontin. Doctors and addicts say it's amazing.

"It was the best thing that ever happened," one heroin addict told us. "I was like OH. MY. LORD. This is a miracle pill."

The government spent tens of millions of dollars developing Suboxone. Doctors can prescribe it in their offices. But a lot of people who want it can't get it from a doctor, so they have to buy it on the street.

Today on the show: Why people have to turn to drug dealers to get a pill that fights addiction.

Listen online: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/07/31/157665908/episode-391-the-anti-addiction-pill-thats-big-business-for-drug-dealers

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Reply The Anti-Addiction Pill That's Big Business For Drug Dealers (Original post)
salvorhardin Aug 2012 OP
cindyperry2010 Aug 2012 #1
salvorhardin Aug 2012 #2
Warpy Aug 2012 #8
get the red out Aug 2012 #3
salvorhardin Aug 2012 #4
get the red out Aug 2012 #5
salvorhardin Aug 2012 #7
mopinko Aug 2012 #6

Response to salvorhardin (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 07:54 AM

1. suboxone is worthless

it doesn't work on most drug addicts and two go to the streets to buy it abuse it and stay junkies

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Response to cindyperry2010 (Reply #1)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 08:04 AM

2. How can they abuse it?

Suboxone is buprenorphine + naloxone. The naloxone is an opioid agonist added specifically to prevent abuse. I understand that naloxone's affinity for opioid receptors is lower than buprenorphine but that's by design -- you want to treat the addiction, not punish the user.

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Response to salvorhardin (Reply #2)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 03:40 PM

8. No kidding, and buprenorphine itself is an agonist/antagonist

that blocks any "high" from subsequent narcotic use. Junkies are using this stuff to stay straight and taper off and this hardly can be classified as "abuse."

Drug policy in this country is insane. Moralists have been running it for far too long and it's high time for them to be shoved aside in favor of a non punitive approach.

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Response to salvorhardin (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 08:49 AM

3. There will never be a pill that is commonly used for addiction, IMO

Or at least not for a long time, and not without a complete change in the way we think about addiction. There is just too much money in the "churn", the people going into and out of residential drug treatment over and over. And our society is hooked on labeling people for life and treating them accordingly.

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Response to get the red out (Reply #3)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 09:00 AM

4. It seems to me we make progress on this issue in fits and starts

One step forward, two steps back. I completely agree that there are too many economic incentives for continued criminalization of addiction, and then there's the cultural issues. Heaven forbid there's a substance that still gets addicts slightly buzzed but allows them to function, and that it should be easily available and affordable.

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Response to salvorhardin (Reply #4)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 09:25 AM

5. I agree

And even when progress is made, it often doesn't filter all the way down into the treatment scenarios most addicts encounter. Thinking regarding addiction becomes nearly as ingrained as religion and it's difficult for any new information to break through. The idea of "purity" = sobriety, you can't have any "substance" in you and claim to be off drugs. Getting better isn't acceptable, it's all or nothing. Unfortunately that leaves way too many people going the "all" route and dying in the process.

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Response to get the red out (Reply #5)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 12:00 PM

7. Aye. We even see it with smoking cessation efforts.

It's all or nothing -- smokers must either go off nicotine completely, or they're failures. OTC nicotine replacement methods are too low dosed. Safer nicotine delivery methods, like Swedish snus, have been taxed so that they're as expensive or more than cigarettes thus providing an economic disincentive to quitting cigarettes, and they're gunning for e-cigarettes next. Meanwhile, only a quarter of people who become addicted to smoking ever manage to quit entirely. Zero nicotine use is best, but why just getting smokers to not smoke, even if it means they need to feed their nicotine addiction for life, is degrees better than lifelong smoking.

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Response to salvorhardin (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 10:26 AM

6. perhaps the glitterati will popularize it.

maybe it will trickle down from the betty ford clinic.

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