Tennessee must address its Suboxone, Subutex problem

Editorial Board • Aug 12, 2016 at 9:30 AM

The Tennessee legislature must place tighter restrictions on Suboxone and Subutex, drugs intended to wean addicts off addiction but which have become a legal alternative to illegal addiction.

Scientific studies show that when used properly, medicated assisted treatment can help addicts struggling to quit. But when every single law enforcement organization says that the way these drugs are being dispensed is a problem, we tend to believe a problem exists.

We have seen too many stories of people driving intoxicated on Subutex, committing fraud for Suboxone, and massive drug busts in which every single person was found to have these drugs.

This problem is growing and cannot continue to be ignored. Despite what a bought and paid for lobbyist would have you believe, doctors are writing prescriptions to drug addicts for these drugs just for the money. There is no difference between a doctor who does that and a drug dealer on the street, other than one has an office and can cause considerably more damage to the community.

Make no mistake, we recognize the opioid problem that exists in the region and nation and that addicts need help and a way out. But putting them on another pill, charging them hundreds of dollars a month and never tapering them off, is not help. It is simply taking advantage of another person, and taking over the illegal drug dealers’ trade.

While they’re at it, the state should mandate that all insurance be accepted at clinics which intend to wean the addict from addition. If addiction is a disease as they say, refusing to accept insurance does nothing for the cause, and the resistance against it only adds fuel to the fire that these doctors are nothing more than drug dealers.

The legislature must re-examine the rules regarding licensing of Suboxone clinics. A certificate of need approved by the state should be the standard, not simply a license from the Department of Mental Health, which the bought and paid for lobbyist and addiction medicine doctors will write the rules for.

Any licensure or certificate of need should apply to single practitioners as well. Not doing that encourages rogue doctors to collect money for a prescription and walk away scot-free.

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