Major push on to increase access to addiction medication

Methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are three medications commonly being used to treat opioid addiction. Methadone, which is an opioid, is now considered the “gold standard” for treatment because it does not produce the high that comes from heroin and other illegal opioids.

Methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are three medications commonly being used to treat opioid addiction. Methadone, which is an opioid, is now considered the “gold standard” for treatment because it does not produce the high that comes from heroin and other illegal opioids. Buprenorphine is another opioid used to prevent withdrawal and cravings, while naltrexone, which is not an opioid, blocks the effects of opioids so that if the person were to use heroin, they would not get high. Studies show that people trying to recover from opioid addiction using one of these FDA-approved medications are 50% less likely to die from an overdose than those who try to recover without them. However, access to the medications can depend on where someone resides. The medications are scarce in rural parts of Pennsylvania, which have some of the nation's highest fatal overdose rates. Jennifer Smith, Pennsylvania's secretary of drug and alcohol programs, admits that the state still has a lot of work to do, but it has taken some steps. For example, about 200 people come regularly to a clinic within the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute, which has easy access to public transportation. However, just 25 miles away in Perry County, county Commissioner Brenda Benner says access to medications to treat opioid addiction is "very, very limited."