There are a number of things we could do to reduce opiate deaths in Utah. Doctors could prescribe suboxone more widely. It is an effective treatment for opiate dependence/addiction. Together with regular attendance at 12-step meetings, it can provide a stable basis for recovery.
We physicians who write all the opiate prescriptions should recognize and treat addiction early. Even heroin users usually start with prescription pills.
Also, if we had an effective "learning" health care system, such as the one President Barack Obama is trying to build, we could learn from and perhaps prevent some of these hundreds of bad outcomes. Instead, we're stuck with our present complicated system designed to pump every available dollar into the pockets of the health care corporations.
Currently, we feel too much shame, stigma and even nihilism about addiction. For instance, obituaries usually don't tell the true cause of opiate deaths.
We need to treat addicts, not incarcerate them. And we should legalize drugs in order to control them and remove the criminal profits.
David A. Moore, M.D.
Salt Lake City