Addiction Expert Dr. Indra Cidambi believes a comprehensive approach, with a focus on prescribers and new modalities of treatment, will help contain the opioid epidemic.
New York, NY – April 5, 2017 – With over 33,000 opioid overdose deaths in 2015, there is an acute need to find solutions to get the epidemic under control. One of the root causes of this addiction is legally prescribed opiate pain pills. President Trump has turned his focus to address this issue head-on by appointing Gov. Chris Christie to head an opioid task force. “In order to make an impact, the task force needs to focus on educating prescribers and the general population about the addiction potential of opioid medications, and adequately funding newer modalities of treatment,” says Dr. Cidambi.
While lawmakers are introducing new laws that restrict physicians’ treatment options relative to treating pain, Dr. Cidambi thinks that this could be counterproductive, as prescribers will resist mandates and may develop workarounds. She further worries about treatment for other serious conditions such as anxiety that require addictive medications. “How many laws can politicians introduce? What about treatment for other conditions, such as anxiety, that require addictive medications? Are politicians going to tell physicians how to treat a host of diseases that call for medications that may be addictive?” asks Dr. Cidambi.
Dr. Cidambi has been treating individuals suffering from substance abuse disorders for over a decade and she believes a comprehensive approach is needed to conquer this disease. “I truly believe a 3- pronged approach including enlisting the support of prescribers and the general public will help us make inroads against this disease.” In her opinion, the opioid task force should attack the problem at its roots by:
Enabling Responsible Prescribing Habits
There is already a lot of noise about legal prescriptions causing the opiate epidemic. “However, a vast majority of the opioid pain prescriptions are written by nurse practitioners and primary care physicians (1), not pain management specialists, and they may not fully understand the addictive potential and diversion issues (potential of others misusing a patient’s pain pills) related to these medications.”
“I believe all prescribers should be fully educated about the dangers of opioid pain pills,” says Dr. Cidambi. “An effective and easy way to achieve this objective is by integrating Centers for Disease Control’s opioid prescription guidelines into continuing education credits prescribers are required to take.” Repetition is also guaranteed as prescribers complete continuing education credits every year. “What about future prescribers, physicians and nurses? They could receive this education through a 2 mandated 3-month rotation at a substance abuse treatment facility while in school so they understand how people get addicted to pain pills.” Such efforts will serve to significantly slow the creation of new addicts; evidence suggests legal prescriptions paved the way to addiction for a large number of individuals.
Arming the General Public With Information on Addictive Potential
” Although prevention campaigns that asked people to say “no to drugs” have been around since the 1980s, they have not helped to educate the public about the dangers of legally prescribed medications,” says Dr. Cidambi.
A high profile, a strongly funded campaign that not only informs the public about such dangers but also encourages them to seek a full explanation from their prescriber about how the prescribed medications work would be impactful. “Make the market work! Create demand for such information and prescribers will be forced to respond and, possibly, rethink their prescriptions,” notes Dr. Cidambi. “This could also mitigate the creation of new addicts.”
Embracing Newer Treatment Modalities
“The substance abuse treatment community, in general, has been resistant to new modalities of treatment, such as Ambulatory Detoxification and Medication Assisted Treatment, which deliver better outcomes,” notes Dr. Cidambi.
“Strong resistance to the utilization of Ambulatory (Outpatient) Detoxification comes from the fear that the individual suffering from substance use disorder returns to his/her home environment each evening,” says Dr. Cidambi. She pioneered the use of ambulatory detoxification for alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opiates in New Jersey and has detoxed over 1,100 individuals safely in four years. “Done right, it can deliver much better outcomes relative to inpatient detoxification as the patient learns to stay sober in his/her home environment,” says Dr. Cidambi. “Family interventions also elevate the level of support the patient receives at home, inhibiting relapse,” adds Dr. Cidambi. The cost of Ambulatory Detoxification is also significantly lower relative to inpatient detoxification.
“The criticism of medicated assisted treatment (specifically buprenorphine) is that the prescriber is just substituting one drug for another,” says Dr. Cidambi. “However, I have found that utilizing medication-assisted treatment provides the physical relief from cravings and withdrawal symptoms needed to engage in therapy and make the required lifestyle changes.” For more information on opioid abuse and addiction or to learn more about the Center for Network Therapy please visit, www.RecoveryCNT.com.
About Dr. Indra Cidambi
Indra Cidambi, M.D., Medical Director, Center for Network Therapy, is recognized as a leading expert and pioneer in the field of Addiction Medicine. Under her leadership, the Center for Network Therapy started New Jersey’s first state-licensed Ambulatory (Outpatient) Detoxification program for alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opiates four years ago. Dr. Cidambi is Board Certified in General Psychiatry and double Board Certified in Addiction Medicine (ABAM, ABPN). She is fluent in five languages, including Russian.
About Center for Network Therapy
Center for Network Therapy (CNT) was the first facility in New Jersey to be licensed to provide Ambulatory (Outpatient) Detoxification Services for all substances of abuse – alcohol, anesthetics, benzodiazepines, opiates and other substances of abuse. Led by a Board Certified Addiction Psychiatrist, Indra Cidambi, M.D., experienced physicians and nurses closely monitor each patient’s progress. With 3 CNT’s superior client care and high-quality treatment, Dr. Cidambi and her clinical team have successfully detoxed over 1,000 patients in nearly four years. The Center for Network Therapy also offers to step down to Partial Care (PHP and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) levels of care. (1) http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2474400 (analysis of 2013 Medicare prescription data.)