Treating Opioid Abuse Before It Takes Over a Life

Teenage Boy Buying Drugs On The Street From Dealer

(DGIwire) – Substance abuse often starts as self-medication—an attempt to stop the physical or emotional pain a person is feeling. However, drug dependency is very difficult to treat. Those with dependence are part of a community, and when one person has a drug problem, there often are several more. This is especially true today, with heroin use at an all-time high. In 2012, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, almost 700,000 Americans reported using heroin the previous year, resulting in thousands of deaths that could have been prevented.

After seeing a significant rise in heroin use, the town of Greenfield, MA decided to take matters into its own hands. As reported in The Recorder, a Greenfield newspaper, the town is now offering free training sessions on how to use naloxone, an opioid antagonist, in the form of a nasal spray, to immediately reverse the effects of a heroin overdose. The sessions are being held by Tapestry Health, a community organization that has delivered family planning and reproductive health services throughout western Massachusetts for almost four decades.

This offering is a positive step, as more treatment options for addiction, not just overdoses, are also coming to market. One company, BioDelivery Sciences (BDSI), a specialty pharmaceutical company based in Raleigh, NC, is working on solutions for both problems: helping those who are legitimately needing an opioid to treat pain as well as aiding the many real pain sufferers that could end up addicted unknowingly.

“Drug dependence is a complicated medical problem requiring medication treatment along with counseling and psychosocial support,” said Mark A. Sirgo, President and CEO of BDSI. “In addition to social programs undertaken on the community level, we believe treatments utilizing innovative delivery technology could play a key role.”

To this end, BDSI is developing proprietary products that are using its BioErodible MucoAdhesive (BEMA®) delivery technology. The BEMA delivery technology is also intended to overcome some of the challenges of other delivery forms that are not well absorbed and need to be kept under the tongue. BDSI’s therapy consists of a small, dissolvable film that is applied to the inner lining of the cheek, rapidly delivering a dose of the active drug across the mucous membrane.

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