Texas Researcher Fighting to Get More Suboxone Doctors Approved to Help Fight Epidemic

Texas is one of the largest states in the country, and yet, it has only 2500 doctors licensed to provide Suboxone for opioid addiction treatment. The lack of waivered doctors in the state makes it nearly impossible for many Texas residents to get the opiate addiction treatment that they desperately need.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, treatment needs to be readily available for addicts to succeed in recovery. Sadly, Suboxone is not readily available throughout the Lonestar state. In fact, many residents in rural areas suffer greatly as a result of this lack of treatment availability. However, a Texas researcher is fighting to get more doctors waivered in to help fight opioid addiction.

What Does “Waivered In” Mean?

In order to provide Suboxone or Buprenorphine treatment, physicians must go through a “waiver” process. During this time, the physician is required to complete at least 8 hours of buprenorphine training which they receive a certificate for. A copy of the certificate of completion is also forwarded to the DEA. The DEA then assigns the physician a special identification number which is required for all buprenorphine prescriptions alongside the physician’s regular DEA registration number.

Buprenorphine treatment waiver applications are reviewed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration within 45 days of submission. Approved physicians are provided a confirmation letter that also includes their prescribing identification number that was issued by the DEA. Doctors that do not have the waiver are not legally permitted to prescribe buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid dependence.

Daily Prescribing

Many patients in early recovery are prescribed Suboxone on a daily regimen. They are required to meet with the prescribing physician each day. The physician will assess their symptoms and prescribe the appropriate dose for adequate treatment. Daily prescribing helps to reduce the risk of diversion and ensures accountability for the patient, but it can make receiving opiate addiction treatment difficult in areas where licensed doctors are limited.

Many drive hundreds of miles per day just to receive their Suboxone dose. Unfortunately, many recovering addicts are unable to make such a long trip, and those who do travel such distances find it difficult to adjust and find stable employment when they spend several hours each day driving back and forth for their treatment. Suboxone treatment simply is NOT ACCESSIBLE for many in rural areas and it really needs to be.

Get Waivered Campaign

According to Jennifer Sharpe Potter, a professor of psychiatry at UT Health San Antonio, steps need to be taken to get more doctors waivered in the state of Texas so that treatment can be more accessible. In fact, she has acted in what she calls a “road show” campaign called Get Waivered. Get Waivered will bring the resources, applications, and training necessary for treatment waivers to physicians that are interested in applying. Her campaign aims to help physicians learn how to diagnose opioid use disorder and make Suboxone or buprenorphine treatment a part of their practice.

Potter hopes that her campaign to bring the training to the physician encourages more doctors to Get Waivered so that they can provide treatment to more Texas residents in need. Potter’s goal is to have a thousand or more doctors get waivered to provide Suboxone treatment in Texas so that they can help patients overcome their opioid addiction. This distribution would ensure that patients are able to get help in their town, effectively making addiction treatment more accessible throughout the state of Texas.