While many people may make moral judgments about substance abusers, today’s medical professionals model a new stance: Addiction is a treatable disease.
Thanks to the good work of physicians like Thomas Lindsay, MD, of Mission Community Primary Care in Cashiers, hundreds of locals suffering from substance abuse have sought treatment, reconstructed their lives, reconnected with estranged families, and reestablished themselves as viable employees.
April is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. Mission salutes its staff and patients who have teamed up to hold addiction at bay. But the road to recovery is a lot longer than you might think.
In the past, opiate addicts went to detox facilities. A high percentage relapsed when they returned home. Nowadays there’s an outpatient program, buprenorphine MAT. Specially trained doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants administer scheduled medications that counteract addictive substances. In this controlled environment, patients are less likely to relapse.
Why are doctor’s visits more successful than a detox facility? A normal brain generates endorphin-producing chemicals, as needed, to make people feel good. Excruciating pain, physical or emotional, requires more painkillers than the brain can muster. At home, patients on prescription drugs occasionally forget how much or when they last dosed. If alcohol or sedatives (like Xanax) are part of the mix, the brain is further compromised, and it sets up potential for overdose or death.
When seeing a doctor in their office on a regular basis, meds are controlled, pain managed, adjustments made, and mishaps prevented.
“People don’t want to overdose; they simply lose track,” says Dr. Lindsay. “It’s hard to remember when you had your last dose when you are hurting and taking a med that already affects your brain.”
This shift toward doctor-based treatment has made a tremendous difference. Even though it might take years to undo an addiction, the results are solid. Patients are far less likely to backslide, saving money for patients and taxpayers.
Anyone can fall into the substance-abuse pit. Addiction doesn’t recognize race, religion, or status. Take time to write your congresspersons and ask for more funding to help heal those afflicted with this terrible disease.
If you’re concerned about abuse for you or a loved one, call Mission at (828) 526-1200. The treatment is highly confidential. Let Mission help you take your life back.
Thomas Lindsey, MD is a primary care physician at Mission Community Primary Care – Cashiers. To schedule an appointment, call (828) 743-2491.