From the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette
Rampant opiate use in Fairfield County has local recovery officials wondering what they can do to help more addicted individuals.
Pressed with time and a growing number of patients, many doctors are forced to turn away people hooked on opiates such as heroin, OxyContin, Vicodin, morphine and other pain relievers
Some even die on waiting lists for a widely used medication called Suboxone
: A touted "miracle drug" that suppresses symptoms of withdrawal, reduces cravings, reduces drug use and helps patients stay in treatment.
"With all the deaths and what's happening because of opiates, I just feel like we need more programs in Ohio for that," said Dr. Robert C. Polite, medical director at the Recovery Center in Lancaster. "That's on my wish list to get an opilaoid-treatment license for the Recovery Center where we do specifically Suboxone."
Polite founded the Recovery Center's opiate-addiction recovery program that uses the drug Suboxone. His goal is to one day have a clinic devoted solely to helping those addicted to opiates.
The center chalks up much of its success to the drug, which is helping many Fairfield County residents kick their opiate dependency. The center boasts a success rate of more than 60 percent.
The medication blocks the ability for patients to get high off other drugs, but it still gives the patient a lower feeling of being high, said Recovery Center Clinical Director Sharon Shultz.
Patients typically stay on the medication 10 to 18 months, and more than half refrain from opiate use after treatment. That's a drastically higher success rate than any other type of addiction treatment, Shultz said.
The center has a 30- to 40-person waiting list for the Suboxone program, with more than 50 being treated right now. It's the fact others are waiting their turn - often in critical stages of dependency - that makes the Recovery Center strict on its Suboxone patients, Shultz said.
A lot of patients understand the severity of their situations and stick to the rules, she said.
The number of patients treated in the program has more than doubled in the past two years, since the Recovery Center started offering the treatment program.
But, Polite said the program still is fairly new and malleable. He said one of the challenges with the program is getting more patients in the door for help.
The problem lies in the number of patients doctors are prohibited to see, Polite said. On top of that, only specially-licensed doctors may prescribe Suboxone.