Can Opioid Addiction Be Cured?

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price made two claims about opioid addiction that are contradicted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is part of the department Price heads.

Price made his claims on May 9 while in West Virginia, the state with the highest rate of opioid-related overdoses in the country.

  • Price said, “Folks need to be cured so they can be productive members of society.” But there is currently no cure for addiction to opioids, or any other drug. The NIDA says “addiction is treatable and can be successfully managed.”
  • Speaking about treatment, Price claimed, “If we’re just substituting one opioid for another, we’re not moving the dial much.” But using opioids such as buprenorphine to combat addiction to more dangerous opioids including heroin is effective, say experts and the NIDA.

While there is no cure for opioid addiction, medication-assisted treatments, including other opioids, “save lives” and “help to stabilize individuals, allowing treatment of their medical, psychological, and other problems so they can contribute effectively as members of families and of society,” says the NIDA.

Nationally, the rate of opioid-related deaths increased from around 3 per 100,000 people in 2000 to more than 10 per 100,000 people in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over 33,000 people died of opioid-related

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