I have a good feeling when I walk into the office and start my workday every morning as an Addiction Medicine physician
On a recent afternoon at the Athol, Massachusetts, center of CleanSlate, a national provider of outpatient addiction medicine, I met with two new patients who suffer from substance use disorder. One told me how badly she felt about herself. When I thanked her for the privilege of allowing me to work with her, she looked down at the floor.
“I’m just an addict,” she said softly. The other patient sat in silent agreement.
No, I corrected them: I don’t see “addicts” when I meet with patients. I see people who have a chronic disease, no different than other chronic diseases like diabetes. I see people who are battling not only addiction, but also the stigma of addiction, which only multiplies the obstacles to recovery.
“Can you talk to my family?” the patient asked. “They think I’m not anything. They won’t even let me in the house.”
I told this young woman that I’ve seen many families welcome back their loved ones after they had proven their commitment to recovery.
You’ll have to earn back their trust, I told her. But it’s possible.
“As we go through the process of recovery, you will rediscover hope,” I said. “You can reclaim your life. You can regain everything that you’ve lost.”
The patient started crying. I asked her why.
“You’re the first person who ever made me feel like I was worth anything,” she said.
This is why I do what I do.
I am an addiction medicine physician. The American Board of Addiction defines that as a physician who is trained and certified to provide comprehensive care for addiction and substance related disorders, including the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of such health conditions. I define it as a doctor who treats addiction with the evidence-based practices that every disease requires, and who treats patients with the same compassionate care that every person deserves.Read More
Amidst a divisive political climate, there’s one issue that every side agrees upon: the urgent need to combat the deadly opioid epidemic.
Last fall, rare bipartisan cooperation resulted in the passage of the SUPPORT Act, a sweeping package of legislation which addresses multiple aspects of this complex crisis, including treatment, recovery and prevention. This political achievement is to be commended. But a fatal oversight in SUPPORT means that more lives will needlessly be lost every day.
Wildfire without water
Imagine a fast-moving wildfire that is decimating a community.
Now picture this scenario: before firefighters can race to put out the flames, they must submit to a lengthy bureaucratic process for permission to use their hoses. Once granted, the approval still comes with a caveat: the firefighters are only allowed to save a small number of homes. After that, they must turn off their hoses and watch the rest of the town go up in flames.
This is the current state we’re in when it comes to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction.Read More
State Representative Aaron Vega recently toured the CleanSlate center in Holyoke to learn more about the lifesaving addiction treatment services provided to hundreds of patients. During his visit, Rep. Vega met with several members of the CleanSlate team to discuss the alarming rate of opioid related deaths and what can be done to expand treatment options for those in need.Read More
The opioid crisis continues to hit hard in the Bluegrass state. In 2017, Kentucky outpaced the national average rate of opioid-involved deaths by almost double. That same year, drug overdose deaths caused by synthetic opioids increased more than tenfold climbing from 76 to 780 in just a four-year period. Most recently, a 2019 study ranked the state fifth for most overdose deaths per capita.Read More
Do you know how to recognize the signs of an overdose? Or what to do if someone is overdosing?
The organizers behind International Overdose Awareness Day want to ensure that you do.
International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event held each year on August 31st to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. Since its launch in 2001, the global event has also acknowledged the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have died or had a permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.
Above all, International Overdose Awareness Day aims to reduce overdose deaths by educating people about the signs and symptoms of overdose.
Here’s what everyone should know:Read More
Accidental drug poisoning became Ohio’s leading cause of death in 2007, claiming more lives than motor vehicle crashes for the first time in the state’s history. Years later, this trend has continued. Ohio has the second highest rate of drug overdose deaths involving opioids in the nation, nearly triple the national average.Read More
Ashley’s recovery from opioid addiction was going well.
For more than a year, she had been a responsible patient with us at CleanSlate in Elkhart, Indiana. When Ashley discovered that she was pregnant last October, she became an even more committed patient - coming to double the appointments that she even needed.
Ashley was doing everything right.
And for good reason. Ashley has two other kids, and the Department of Child Services (DCS) had been involved with her family in the past. She was determined to make sure that this baby was born healthy and that DCS had no cause for alarm.
So when Ashley tested positive for methamphetamine at the hospital after the baby was born, we were all floored. Nobody was more shocked than Ashley, who knew for a fact that the results were false. The only medications that she was taking (other than our prescribed addiction medication) was for acid reflux.
DCS informed Ashley that her baby would be required to stay at the hospital until they could conduct a second drug test and assess the blood results.
I was furious when I heard this news.Read More
The opioid epidemic has shown some signs of progress over the past few years. Opioid overdose deaths have declined in many states, in part because of decreases in opioid prescriptions and increases in the use of both Narcan to revive overdose victims and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to treat people with addiction.
But progress comes in very small brushstrokes. The epidemic has hardly stalled, continuing to claim an intolerably high number of lives each year. Opioid addiction currently affects 6 million people in the U.S. Alcohol addiction affects and kills even more people every year than drugs, and polysubstance use and the rise of stimulant use further complicate the response to this deadly crisis.
Since 2009, CleanSlate has been on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic, treating more than 41,000 patients in outpatient centers across 11 states. During that time, we have worked relentlessly to convince public policymakers and healthcare payors to recognize addiction as a chronic brain disease that requires a more expansive approach than punitive and judgmental policies, which only perpetuate the crisis. Over time, we have codified a patients-first approach for our company that increases access to treatment and treats each patient with personalized care.
From our vantage point, here are four key challenges of the opioid epidemic and our approach to solving them:Read More
Despite the fact that Kentucky has the fifth highest drug overdose death rate in the U.S., treatment options are scarce, even in the state’s more urban areas. Owensboro may be the fourth largest city in Kentucky, but its residents who suffer from addiction have few places to turn for treatment.
CleanSlate is addressing this shortage with a new outpatient center for medication-assisted treatment (MAT). This marks CleanSlate’s third center in Kentucky, joining others in Louisville, S. Louisville, and Lexington. Located at 3500 Villa Pointe Road, Suite 110, the Owensboro center opens its doors to patients today.Read More