Editorial: Successful addiction medication should be easier for doctors to prescribe

It’s refreshing to see positive stories come out our local court system. Just last week Island County Drug Court celebrated another graduate from its program.

Former heroin addict Kody Schwiger was able to kick his habit with the help from the medication Suboxone.

Programs like Drug Court have changed, and maybe even saved people’s lives and with the addition of new medications like Suboxone, they are seeing even greater success.

Suboxone is different than methadone, an older and controversial treatment for heroin addiction.

It contains a partial opioid agonist, buprenorphine, and naloxone, which blocks the effect of opioids.

People who take the medication don’t get high from it, but it helps prevents withdrawal symptoms and relapse.

It also prevents people on the medication from getting high if they do use heroin.

What’s disconcerting is how difficult the federal government is making it for doctors to prescribe the drug.

They are required to go through a special process and get a waiver to prescribe a drug that is effective in fighting opioid abuse and is relatively unlikely to be abused.

Yet at the same time they are free to prescribe other highly addictive opioid drugs, such as Vicodin.

Because of the tedious process, there are no doctors on the island who can prescribe the medication and participants are forced to go off island to see a doctor who can.

With an estimated $10,000 in tax dollars being saved for every adult drug-court participant, making the process easier for providers should be a priority.

Success stories like Schwiger’s should be publicized as much as possible and used in lobbying efforts to make a medication that is having proven success more accessible to the addicts who need it.