Vineyard House directors on Suboxone

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To the Editor:

We welcome Barry Stringfellow’s comprehensive article in last week’s Martha’s Vineyard Times (Feb. 15, “National debate over Suboxone use is also a Vineyard debate”) about the role of buprenorphine — better known by the brand name Suboxone — in the treatment of opioid addiction. While individuals may hold various opinions, the Vineyard House board of directors believes there is a place for medically assisted treatment, including Suboxone, in the continuum of care for substance use disorder, and that no person afflicted with this serious disease should be stigmatized for any reason.

Vineyard House provides sober housing; it is not a treatment facility. As Dr. Seppala, chief medical officer at Hazelden’s Betty Ford Foundation, notes in the article, there are many practical reasons why a small sober living facility may have difficulty accommodating Suboxone patients. Under current policy, Vineyard House does not allow Suboxone because we do not have the resources to properly supervise its use. Vineyard House does admit residents who have been prescribed the once-monthly naltrexone injection (better known by the brand name Vivitrol).

The board of Vineyard House and its board of advisors regularly review all of its policies, including by bringing in outside medical experts to help us understand Suboxone and other medically assisted treatments, as we have on two occasions in the past 18 months.

As an active member of the Island’s Substance Use Disorder Coalition, Vineyard House takes seriously its responsibility to help any addict in need, and is committed to seeking alternative solutions for individuals who for a variety of reasons may not be eligible for our services. The board of Vineyard House is grateful to the Times for educating the community on the complexity of the problem of substance use disorder.

Brian Mackey, president, Jane Seagrave, vice president, W. Eric Adams, vice president, Lois H. Kanter, J.D., clerk, Brian McBride, treasurer, Lucy Cox, Tim Dobel, John Early, Bill Howell, Mark Jenkins, Joan Potter, Karen Rankin, Sheila Shapiro, John Thayer

Vineyard House board of directors