Mr. B undid his arm bandages and revealed two large, gaping wounds where he injected his heroin. He lay back in his hospital bed, looked up at the ceiling and said with a quivering voice, "I can't inject into my veins anymore because they are all shot. I know I have a problem, Doctor. I've been trying to quit, but it's so hard."
Mr. B (I'm identifying him only by his initial to protect his privacy) had been using heroin for 20 years after originally being prescribed a common opioid, oxycodone, to treat his pain. He, like many others who had fallen victim to the opioid epidemic, was trying to quit, but methadone hadn't worked for him. "It made me feel ill," he said.
I knew of a medication that would treat his addiction and possibly save his life. It has been around for years, is simple to use and is safer than other options. Sadly, I can't prescribe it. We need to fix this.