DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A bill going through Congress right now could ease restrictions on a vital opioid addiction treatment. Currently, that treatment requires a special waiver for doctors to prescribe it.
OneFifteen is a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center in Dayton. Every day the staff helps people who pass through their doors on the path to addiction recovery.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Natalie Lester said having better access to this treatment would increase people’s chance of recovery.
“I think that that the roots of addiction treatment have really been founded on this, the sense of pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” Lester said. “That alone is not enough. We really do see addiction now as being a chronic medical condition.”
Lester said doctors and treatment centers face barriers to prescribe safe medications that treat addiction like buprenorphine.
“Unlike if you take more and more Percocet or OxyContin or fentanyl, people will head towards an opioid overdose,” Lester said. “If you take more and more buprenorphine, what happens is that there’s kind of a ceiling effect in it.”
Buprenorphine requires specialized training and a waiver from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to prescribe. It can be prescribed to a patient and picked up at a pharmacy.
Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) has worked with OneFifteen to introduce the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act (MAT Act), which would remove some of the regulations on the drug and make it easier for it to be prescribed.
“This steals people’s lives, opioid addictions, other addictions and buprenorphine, gives an ability to help get them back on a path to restore their lives and to save their lives in some instances,” Turner said.
Lester said removing barriers to buprenorphine opens up more room for recovery.
“Once they’re stable on a medication and able to not be in active drug use, then they’re able to attend to these other areas of their life that really help them get back on their feet,” Lester said.
The bill passed with bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives and now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration. Turner said he’s optimistic this bill will land on President Biden’s desk.