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How are pharmacies helping with the opioid crisis?

Updated on November 29th, 2022

Save up to 88% on your medications

The opioid crisis in America has reached epidemic proportions. In 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared the prevalence of opiate use disorder a public health crisis. Opioid overdoses resulted in over 48,000 deaths in 2020; as many as 80% of the deaths due to drug overdoses that year can be attributed to opioids.

Clearly, something must be done to stop the rising numbers of opioid users, fueled mainly by the irresponsible prescribing of narcotic painkillers. More responsible prescribing of painkillers made of opiates by medical professionals may stem the tide of new users who become hooked, but what can be done by the millions who already have? One person, Jabeen Ahmed, a pharmacist and the owner of Sheefa Pharmacy in Paterson, NJ, has set out to make a difference to opioid addicts, one person at a time.

What Can One Person Do?

Backed by the Mayor and the City Council, Ms. Ahmed has created an initiative called RealFix that gives opioid addicts access to 24/7 resources to help them combat their addiction. Since the terrible withdrawal symptoms from opioids are primarily responsible for their continued use, RealFix provides addicts with access to medically assisted treatment (MAT) for their addiction. This includes an emergency call center, an all-night pharmacy, telemedicine appointments, instant prescriptions, and Suboxone or other addiction fighting medication within 90 minutes of their contact. The medication can be delivered directly to the addict or picked up at the all-night pharmacy. Once the addict has their medication, referrals to Rutgers University vetted clinics are made for further treatment.

What is MAT?

MAT is a treatment plan that includes medication in conjunction with counseling and other general health and wellness strategies to help addicts overcome withdrawal symptoms and begin their journey toward beating their addiction. In the case of opioid addicts, the drug most often prescribed to combat the signs of withdrawal is Suboxone.

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a sublingual film made of a combination of two medications, buprenorphine, and naloxone. It is designed to rapidly ease the symptoms of opiate withdrawal. When placed under the tongue, the film dissolves in seconds, and the many blood vessels under the tongue rapidly distribute the medications through the bloodstream.

Suboxone treatment can effectively ease withdrawal symptoms and allow users to focus on finding the reasons for their addiction through inpatient or outpatient behavioral and psychological therapy. It works by blocking the "opioid effect". When a person consumes an opiate, the drug blocks pain and releases endorphins in the brain. These endorphins are the same that are released when a person feels pleasure. Suboxone prevents the release of those endorphins.

Let RxLess Help Lower the Cost of MAT.

If you or a loved one is beginning the journey toward being free of opioid addiction, the last thing you need to worry about is the cost of the medications that will help you along the way. The RxLess discount card will lower the cost of Suboxone and any other Rx. Search for the medication you have been prescribed using the RxLess search tool. You will be presented with a list of local pharmacies, including CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid who have the medication you need and how much it will cost you to buy. Just choose a pharmacy, print out or download your discount card and show it to the pharmacist to see significant savings on your bill.

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