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State Project To Encourage Doctors To Treat Opioid Addiction With Medication

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Associated Press

Schedule 2 narcotics: Morphine Sulfate, OxyContin and Opana are displayed for a photograph in Carmichael, Calif., Jan. 18, 2013.

State Project To Encourage Doctors To Treat Opioid Addiction With Medication


Dr. Carla Marienfeld, addiction psychiatrist, UC San Diego Health


California public health officials are encouraging doctors to use buphrenorphine in the fight against opioid addiction.

A federally-funded project will provide support, education and training for doctors that prescribe the drug, Marlies Perez with the California Department of Health Care Services told Capital Public Radio.

Unlike methadone, a narcotic used to treat opioid addiction that can only be prescribed through treatment programs, buprenorphine can be prescribed through a doctor's office.

Dr. Carla Marienfeld, an addiction psychiatrist at UC San Diego Health, said the drug has a high success rate.

"In comparison to other medications that we have in psychiatry and in general medicine, buprenorphine is very effective. So you take patients who are using illicit opiates daily maybe 70 or 80 percent of the time going down to 10 or 20 percent, which is a dramatic decrease in the amount of illicit opioid use," Marienfeld said.

Opioid-use is driving overdose deaths, the leading cause of accidental death in the United States.

Opioids include heroin and prescription pain medications like Oxycontin and Vicodin.

Marienfeld will be discussing medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction on Thursday at 6 p.m. at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center Goldberg Auditorium. The talk is free and open to the public, but those planning on attending must register.

Marienfeld will join Midday Edition on Thursday to talk about opioid addiction and using medication to treat it.

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