By David Riewe
Some family practice doctors have advanced in being some of the very few doctors that are legally able to prescribe buprenorphine, which is also known as Suboxone. This drug is prescribed as an alternative in replacement therapy for opiate addiction. Family practice doctors must get certified in order to join the program and are, by law, only allowed to prescribe to a certain number of patients annually.
If a person with an opiate addiction chooses to select this method of treatment chances are that their family practice doctor will not be able to help him but may be able to refer him to another family practitioner. Because these offices are regular family practices, when the addict goes in for his initial visit, he will blend in as no one will know why he is there.
The family practice doctor will examine the patient and get a thorough history because he will need to know the opiate of choice and how much the addict uses in order to dispense the replacement drug. The family practice doctor will not be able to council the addict but can probably send him in the right direction. The family practice doctor’s sole purpose is to dispense the correct dose of buprenorphine and monitor its effectiveness. Medical insurance will not pick up the cost of the visits to the family practice doctor but may cover the extreme expense of the prescription itself.
Some family practice doctors have chosen not to deal with the implications of offering replacement therapy but others have decided to enter this new facet of medicine in hopes of building up their practice with minimal insurance ramifications. The problem is that there are so many opiate addicts and so few doctors who have selected to become certified. That number needs to increase so that addicts can discreetly enter a family practice of their choosing and get the help that they need to address their problem.
The program is newer and is an alternative to methadone. But buprenorphine and methadone are the only two choices for replacement therapy in opiate addiction. Anti drug campaigns are gearing up in an attempt to recruit more family practice physicians to become certified and enter the programs because it has been so successful. The family practice doctor is the best setting for this type of program but the main objective so far is for the physician to evaluate the patient, disperse the medication is adequate intervals, monitor the progress, and provide maintenance throughout the program.
While family practice doctors create the perfect setting for this treatment and maintenance as an alternative to methadone treatment which requires those seeking treatment an alternative to overcrowded methadone clinics that require dosing on a daily basis. The replacement therapy is working and many addicts are seeking relief from this program. More family practice doctors should consider become certified and also offering this form of treatment especially because they are known for general health and overall well being and in some many cases of opiate abuse it may have been the family practice doctor who prescribed the prescription of opiates in the first place.
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