Utah doctor's opiate addiction program seeks to save lives (Photo: KUTV)
(KUTV) – Doctors at a Salt Lake City clinic are trying to save lives by educating the public about programs to help people stop opiates.
The Equilibrium Healthcare team is developing a multifaceted approach to fighting opioid dependence. The program involves a mix between outpatient therapy and medications such as Suboxone or Vivitrol.
"It blocks receptors and decreases withdrawal symptoms and decreases people's cravings without causing euphoria," said Dr. Amy De La Garza, founder of Equilibrium said. "It reduces withdrawal symptoms, so people do not have the urge to go out and use to not feel sick and also help people not to use opiates."
De La Garza developed the clinic with his partner, Jonathan Hueso, a year and a half ago. She is a member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.
Last year, the nationally recognized medical organization began the Treatment Gap Awareness Week, which takes place annually the last seven days of April.
"I think a lot of strange people" In the treatment because they do not know there's an option like this, "said De La Garza.
His patient, Suzanne Severini, has been using Suboxone for ten years.
" I am a productive professional. A good mother, a good wife, a good friend, a good sponsor. None of that could happen in my life on a constant basis until I was able to enter this program, "said Severini.
De La Garza said he sees many patients like Severini hooking up on painkillers after legitimate medical problems. it is often difficult for them to seek treatment because they can not afford time or money for intensive treatment of hospitalized patients, which is commonplace.
For many people who have families, children and jobs, it is very difficult to disconnect from them. Your life for a prolonged period of time, and then I think that many people simply do not access it You leave the residential and you return to your normal world with all the triggers and stressors that helped you get there, but you have not had any practice how to apply those things, I've learned, "she said. "If you can not totally disconnect from your life, stop going to work and take care of your family, do not access treatment for a long period of time, that disease simply perpetuates itself."
Both women agreed treatments such as Suboxone have had a bad reputation in the past due to misuse, but it is a viable and effective treatment option for many opioid dependent patients.
"We need to change the conversation and the paradigm about what surrounds and surrounds suboxone."
Utah has the seventh highest rate of opiate-related deaths. Only one in ten addicts will seek treatment. De La Garza said that Suboxone therapy helps increase the recovery rate by 50 percent.
You can find more information about the program at Equilibriumclinicslc.com/.