IT COULD BE YOU, YOUR SPOUSE, A FRIEND.
Opioid addiction crosses age, gender, and financial barriers to ensnare at-risk people from every walk and stage of life.
Consider Jerry, a 46-year-old mechanic from Ravenna. A few years ago, his internal medicine physician prescribed Vicodin for Jerry to manage his arthritis pain. The active ingredient in this commonly used painkiller is the opioid, hydrocodone. This was the beginning of Jerry’s battle with opioid addiction.
At the time, neither Jerry nor his doctor had any inkling his brain was prewired for addiction. Not surprising, since the concept of a physical basis for addiction still is not widely recognized, according to Renee Klaric, Manager, University Hospitals Addiction Services. “Although many programs continue to treat addiction as a behavior, there is extensive scientific evidence that some people’s biological makeup leaves them susceptible to opioid addiction,” she explains. “If such a person is prescribed opioids for pain relief, he or she may have a higher risk of developing chronic addiction.”
With support from his family, physician, and minister, Jerry eventually was able to admit his addiction and entered UH Portage Medical Center’s Addiction Services. The service has been treating patients for drug and alcohol addiction since November, 2016.
Today, Jerry is one of hundreds of patients who are managing their chronic disease of addiction as a result of the innovative treatment the service offers. Ninety percent of patients with opioid addiction who have been treated in the hospital attend their follow-up appointment after discharge to continue their treatment.
Addiction as a Chronic Disease
Addiction Services’ success rests in its medical approach to addiction, Klaric says. “Based on the evidence that addiction has a physiologic basis, we recognize it as a chronic disease that requires longitudinal medical treatment,” she stresses. “Opioid addiction is not something that can be cured with behavioral therapy alone.”
Treatment begins with a three- to five-day hospital stay at UH Portage Medical Center for medical stabilization. During this period, the patient is started on Suboxone, a prescription medication approved in 2002 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that treats withdrawal symptoms and reduces the craving for opioids.
Addiction Services eliminates fragmented treatment and ensures continuity of care. Before being discharged from the hospital, the patient is scheduled for an appointment with a UH primary care physician who will supervise his or her long-term Suboxone treatment.
To be successful, the patient must commit to taking the medication as prescribed and work with his or her physician for medication management and monitoring of any physical problems caused by long-term drug abuse. Addicts have an average of 70- plus co-occurring medical conditions that require monitoring and potentially
Lifelong Disease Management
“Our goal is to help patients maintain the progress achieved during medical stabilization and to prevent relapse,” Klaric says. She compares opioid addiction to other chronic diseases such as high blood pressure or diabetes that are managed with medication. “Opioid addiction, unlike abuse or dependence, is a chronic disease, not a behavioral choice,” she notes. “As with other chronic diseases, you don’t cure it, but the patient can successfully manage it by taking medications as prescribed, under supervision of a primary care physician.”
She also is sensitive to the myriad of other issues that people with opioid addiction often experience such as family problems, depression, employment and financial issues, and other drug and alcohol abuse. “To help individuals with these problems and increase their chances for the best possible outcomes, we refer them to the appropriate behavioral health counseling and other community resources for support as needed,” Klaric notes.
For more information about Addiction Services at UH Portage Medical Center,
visit http://uhportage.org, click "A" under browse services and click on "Addiction Services." or call 844-541-2087.
Help and Hope for Opioid
FROM UH PORTAGE ADDICTION SERVICES
“Our goal is to help patients maintain the progress achieved during medical stabilization and to prevent relapse,”
MANAGER UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS ADDICTION SERVICES