Unfortunately, the pandemic of 2020 has contributed to the rise of drug overdose related deaths.
According to the American Medical Association’s February 15, 2022 brief, “[our] nation’s drug overdose epidemic continues to change and become worse”. Source
Opioid overdoses account for approximately 71% of all drug overdose deaths. Source
This has put a strain on the ability of licensed and ethical treatment centers to meet treatment demands.
“Patients are struggling to find physicians who are authorized to prescribe buprenorphine; onerous regulations discourage physicians from being certified to prescribe it,” said Dr. Patrice Harris of the American Medical Association. Source
This moved the Biden administration to loosen the guidelines on the requirements needed to prescribe a common treatment, buprenorphine. A common version is Suboxone.
Extra hours of training are no longer required by doctors and other health workers to prescribe medication like Suboxone.
While on the surface, this seems like great news for those who need and want treatment, there is the unintended consequence of these looser guidelines being abused.
And it’s not just being abused by those needing treatment. It is being abused by those trusted to administer treatment.
There have been multiple convictions of medical professionals out to make a quick buck at the expense of those in need of treatment.
So if you or your loved one is in need of treatment and wants the best chance to truly experience a full recovery, be on the lookout for these signs that could suggest the “treatment” is nothing more than a scam or money grab.
1. Do they have an actual local location? While the pandemic did shift various medical services to become available online, most legitimate providers still have a local physical location. Not all “online only” Suboxone treatment centers are scams, but you should do your research.
You want to avoid “online pop-ups” just created to make money from pushing pills. Increased demand and fast money brings out scammers.
2. Is their treatment more than just “prescribing a pill”? Although the laws have changed, professional comprehensive therapy combined with medication assisted treatment increases your chances of a sustained full recovery.
If a clinic or doctor is prescribing medication without a proper initial assessment and ongoing therapy, it may be a sign that you are dealing with a scam.
This is a major concern for legitimate caring professionals that have been successfully helping patients recover before the guidelines were loosened.
Licensed since 2006, Dr. David Fallat, one of the early licensed Suboxone doctors in Cincinnati, cautions those looking for treatment for themselves or a loved one. “More help is great. But we don’t just need “more” prescribers. We need more ethical and caring prescribers. It’s disheartening that during a very vulnerable and sensitive time in a person’s life, they have to be on the lookout for someone trying to make a quick buck off them and leaving them in a worse condition.”
In addition to the two red flags we’ve discussed, Dr. Fallat also recommends you check out online reviews, but to be suspicious of those that look to be faked.
“It was recently brought to our attention that there was another ‘addiction treatment center’ in our building. That was surprising to us because we know the address listed is home to a local roofing company. But sure enough, this fake treatment center had fake online reviews and was set up to scam vulnerable people over the phone. We’ve since reported it to Google and the fake listing and fake reviews were taken down.”, says Dr. Fallat.
So while it is great news that there is more help available to those in need, you or your loved ones should do your due diligence to ensure legitimate treatment is received for the best chances of a successful recovery.
For those that want to understand the basics of how Suboxone treatment works, check out this video https://youtu.be/6FK77K95WAI for an overview.
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