Demand in Tennessee Could Skyrocket with New Opiate Guidelines  E-mail
Addiction Treatment Industry Newswire

12/07/2014 -ATIN - Demand for addiction treatment services may begin to skyrocket in Tennessee in coming months as guidelines limiting the amount of pain meds doctors may prescribe on a daily basis kick in, with published reports saying that about an incredible ninety thousand - yes, that's 90,000 - people in the state currently receive pain meds dosages that exceed the new guidelines and face the prospect of being cut off of the amount of opiates they are used to taking on a daily basis. This in an environment where, according to published reports, the state's mental health and addictions agency is facing a 7 percent cut in its budget, or nearly $9M, as all agencies face the same cuts to comply with an across the board fiscal savings measure introduced by the state Governor Bill Haslam

Public Funded

According to published reports, addictions centers in Tennessee are currently having trouble filling the intense demand, with Mary Linden Salter, head of the Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug and Addiction Services, quoted in local press as saying that at public centers there are already substantial waiting lists, and now these frankly absurd guidelines on opiates where once again the state is interfering with telling a doctor how to practice medicine. Few know this story, but in its efforts to control opiates in the 1920s Treasury agents jailed twenty eight thousand doctors - yes, that's 28,000!!!! - for using opiates to bring down opiate addicts off the drugs.

Business Opportunity

But, of course, those with money and good insurance won't have to wait in line in Tennessee when the new guidelines kick in and private centers will be no doubt be doing a booming businesss, with AAC and  Foundations both having large private presences in the state. (We do NOT mean that as a criticism of either of these well run institutions, but are just making a point on how hard it is in this country in some places to get help if you have no money) And we here at Treatment Magazine just read a highly interesting report this afternoon based on 2012 SAMHSA data that opiate addicts are ten times more likely than an alcoholic to seek out some form of treatment, so on the private side business outta be booming down Tennessee way soon, if it isn't already. And we here at Treatment Magazine are just left shaking our heads at foolish policies that won't work and will create a lot trouble and maybe even some booming business for heroin dealers...

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Ted Jackson


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Behavioral Health Strategies ... Principal Owner
written by Paul Waters, December 18, 2014
Ted ... could you direct me to the SAMHSA article you are referring to:
"just read a highly interesting report this afternoon based on 2012 SAMHSA data that opiate addicts are ten times more likely than an alcoholic to seek out some form of treatment ..."
I would greatly appreciate it.
Paul Waters
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written by Robin Robinette, December 09, 2014
The really bad news is it that unless Tennessee revises their discriminatory restrictions on Opioid Treatment Programs, the state will see an ever increasing death toll (greater than it is already!) for people with opioid use disorders. Buprenorphine is fine for neophyte users who have become dependent and can't stop without tapering, but there are far too many in Tennessee who have been suffering the rehab revolving door for years, or receiving no treatment at all because the state requires a Certificate of Need for OTPs but NO OTHER form of drug treatment program. Buprenorphine diversion from DATA 2000 doctors is extremely common in the state because of this restriction, and for longtime users of opioids, buprenorphine doesn't help as well as methadone maintenance for most patients.
Let's see if the state will come into the 21st century and open their own AND allow private or private non-profits to open Opioid Treatment Programs that can offer comprehensive services and individualized care and medications for those who desperately need them.
I speak from 22 years of experience in the field.
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Exec. Director, BHLI, Asst. Adjunct Prof. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
written by Deborah Agus, December 07, 2014
It is time for a national advocacy campaign to change the rules at DEA that limit who can prescribe ( barrier for nurse-practitioner) and how many patients a doctor can treat for buprenorphine. With those restrictions lifted, at least those on Medicaid could see increased treatment opportunities. Barriers discriminate again the poor and are based on mis-information and stigma.
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makes ya wonder
written by Nathan, December 07, 2014
Ted - As someone who has been in and around the programs of AA/NA for almost a decade, with lots of friends and associates who are on what seems like a revolving door...jail/treatment/relapse, rinse and repeat. Do you think that the policy makers simply ignore relevant research? Every heroin story I have heard (with the rare exception ) starts like this: "my doctor prescribed Vicodin to me..." AND, without adequate treatment, cutting off one supply will simply fortify business for an alternate supplier.

Your closing statements were right on the money! These policies (and policies like them, going into effect in at least one other southern state that I am aware of), aren't going to do curtail opiate use or discourage people from finding a way to get their fix. And, enterprising heroin dealers are probably salivating. Instead of Joe the accountant taking a few extra Vicodins in a day, congrats Tennessee! Joe is now goin to be hunting down heroin, because it will be easier to get,, probably cheaper..and, once he tries it, he'll be wondering why he ever wasted his time with that other shit!

Truly, there is one saving grace that is about to come to light in the treatment of all addictions, as well as compulsive/impulsive disorders. It's not therapy (this addresses the physiological root cause of addiction in the brain, ending the phenomenon of craving), and it's not a medication. No magic bullet, for sure, because us addicts and alcoholics still have a lot of behavior changing and fence mending to do before life starts really returning to 'normal'...but, what's about to hit the market will vastly reduce the rate of relapse, and literally make it possible for those who have struggled in the past to work a solid well as put their lives back together (if they so choose).

Looking forward to speaking with you soon, Ted! This Tennessee stuff really validates the fact that the time, product and people are all right for the job...and that this is going to change EVERYTHING!

Nathan Perry
DHS Healing Center
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