Opioid Addiction Wears Many Different Faces

Opioid addiction wears many different faces. It is time to open the door to stop the epidemic of people addicted to opioids. Some people going into surgery come out needing medication for pain. In a book by Arwen Podesta, MD, called Hooked: a Concise Guide to the Underlying Mechanics of Addiction and Treatment for Patients, Families, and Providers, she indicates that of the patients who are prescribed pain killers for more than one week, 1 in 7 will become dependent and will be taking them a year later- through no fault of their own. The stigma of being an addict prevents many from reaching out for help, despite the spiraling grip it has on one’s life.

At HealthCare Choices, a Federally Qualified Health Center with two (2) locations in Brooklyn, New York, primary care physicians are trained to treat the whole person, which includes opioid addiction. Through a grant, primary care physicians have been trained in buprenorphine treatment, a successful option, obtained the necessary waivers to prescribe this life changing medication and have added another treatment option for individuals to be supported in their recovery.

Approved for clinical use in October 2002 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), buprenorphine represents the latest advance in medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Medications such as buprenorphine, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, provide a whole-patient approach to the treatment of opioid dependency. (SAMHSA). The necessary change to combat the problem is in raising awareness, training more primary care physicians in treating the problem, and helping prescribers of pain killers to understand the dangers, to monitor closely the continued use and to consider alternatives such as: Non-opioid medications that reduce pain; Physical or Occupational therapy; Psychological counseling; Relaxation techniques; Support groups; Exercise, weight loss, or other lifestyle changes.

At HealthCare Choices, when an issue with opioids is revealed during a primary care visit, the physician, nurse, and social worker work to support the recovery process. Change is a process, which includes hope and understanding.

It is our mission to aid in the recovery and treatment of addiction. Drug overdose is a serious public health concern and opioid-related overdose has increased as a health threat. Thanks to a life-saving law, it is now legal in New York State for non-medical persons to administer Naloxone (Narcan) to prevent an opioid/heroin overdose from becoming fatal. We are proud to be one of the registered NYS opioid overdose programs (OOPP) who receive Narcan kits from the Department of Health. These kits are distributed to everyone who participates in a training conducted by members of our Substance Abuse Services program. Narcan is a medication that reverses an overdose by blocking heroin (or other opioids) in the brain. We stand ready and available to assist individuals, families and organizations to help end the opioid crisis.

For more information about our Hope Matters Recovery Center or to schedule a free presentation/training, contact Paul Ammendola, LCSW, at 718-234-0073 or PAmmendola@HealthCareChoicesNY.org.

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