DENVER (CBS) — There’s some hope in the fight against the opioid crisis.
Experts say there’s a medication out there that is the best treatment they’ve seen, but not a lot of people know about it.
In Colorado, there’s a push for more widespread use of the drug, CBS2’s Valerie Castro reports.
On most days, Dan Scales can be found behind the counter. He owns Scales Pharmacy in Denver.
“We kind of step into the arenas that have the most kind of stigma associated with it,” he said.
That includes opioid addiction.
His shop is one that carries buprenorphine, a drug that curbs cravings and treats symptoms of withdrawal.
Robert Valuck is a professor at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and director of the Colorado task force focused on combating prescription drug abuse.
“It’s a way for people to not be taking that opioid that is more dangerous and have one that really is a safer opioid,” Valuck said.
He says when paired with counseling, it is the most effective way to treat the problem.
“It’s the most accessible because methadone clinics are wonderful, but there aren’t that many of them, and buprenorphine could be prescribed by virtually any doctor that’s willing to get one day of training,” Valuck said.
But he says it’s not being utilized and the training is only part of the reason why.
“I think the biggest culprit in all of this is stigma, is people don’t know that they should — people feel ashamed. Doctors don’t want to treat them. Pharmacists don’t want to dispense to them. It’s just, it’s a very stigmatized thing to talk about addiction,” Valuck said.
The hope is they can change that narrative and see more people in treatment.
Valuck says they’re starting to see more doctors get training, which is a step in the right direction, but many doctors are still not willing to prescribe it to their patients.