Letter of the Day (Feb. 17): Heroin addiction

  • Updated: February 16, 2013 - 7:05 PM

12-step programs not the best therapy for heroin addiction.

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Oyxcodone, above, can be as harmful as cocaine and heroin when abused.

Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune

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The Feb. 10 article about heroin addiction in the Twin Cities ("Heroin's surge gets pushback") failed to mention the most important strategy to reduce illicit opioid use: rapid and affordable access to effective treatment.

For established addiction to heroin, OxyContin and other opioids, the only effective treatment is an indefinite prescription of either Suboxone or methadone. The scientific findings are clear on this. It may not be the answer people want to hear, but maintenance therapy like this works, and abstinence-based treatment does not.

Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but the relapse rate after abstinence-based treatment is greater than 90 percent. And people are dying because of it.

DR. MARK WILLENBRING

The writer is founder and CEO of Alltyr Clinic, St. Paul.

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