Tonawanda News

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May 18, 2013

Down the rabbit hole


“As policymakers craft solutions to address prescription drug abuse ... it is critical that we do not unintentionally discourage physicians from appropriately treating pain or reduce access to prescription drugs for patients who are suffering,” AMA President Jeremy Lazarus said in an email to the News.

He said the AMA works hard to inform physicians about appropriate pain management through a variety of education initiatives. Over the next two years, he said the AMA will host 12 free webinars for prescribers on various topics "related to the intersection of addiction, pain management and opioid use."

"It is important for physicians to evaluate their patients for risk of opioid abuse, and to monitor their response in a way that improves pain and function and avoids harm,” he wrote.

'We have no beds for you'

While prevention and education are agreed upon solutions among counselors, police and the medical community, just as pressing is the need for the kind of treatment that Michael Israel couldn't find.

Policymakers say residential, in-patient resources have been lacking in Western New York even as other areas, like New York City, have a surplus of treatment beds. Kasprzyk said area treatment facilities like Horizon "are bursting at the seams."

Horizon admits about 450 people each month to its addiction treatment programs, and up to 2,000 people are undergoing treatment there at any given time. But where residential treatment is concerned, the waiting list is consistently about 35 people.

“The progression into very serious addiction is rapid, and it’s very life threatening because as you’re trying to get off opiates your tolerance is decreasing. If you use the drug again there is a high incidence of overdose,” Constantino said.

But slowly, things are changing.

Just this week, a $3.8 million state grant was awarded to Horizon Village through the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services to construct and operate an additional 25-bed treatment facility in this area.

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