NOHN Addresses the County Opioid Addiction Numbers with Dual Treatment Approaches.

NOHN Addresses the County Opioid Addiction Numbers with Dual Treatment Approaches.

America is in the midst of one of its greatest drug crises. More than 900 Americans die of opioid-related drug overdoses EVERY WEEK. With the rise of synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, this number is likely to increase.

Fortunately, in the midst of this crisis, there is good news and hope for people struggling with opioid addiction. Medication-Assisted Treatment, or MAT, is a two-pronged approach to treating opioid addiction that has already saved thousands of American lives.

Through Medication-Assisted Treatment, patients first receive medications (usually Suboxone) that attach to opioid receptors in the brain, dramatically reducing opioid cravings without the “high” produced by heroin, fentanyl, and other opioids. Second, once the cravings and the highs and lows of opioid addictions are quelled, patients engage in recovery treatment with the help of a counselor or other addiction treatment program.

We’ve learned that opioid addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that alters the very mechanism of brain function. Addiction creates uncontrollable cravings for drugs in one region of the brain while short-circuiting the part of the brain that normally guides self-control, self-awareness, and goal achievement. Treatment for this type of brain disease is likely to require long term care, and include therapies that uniquely address each of the regions of the brain involved in the addiction.

At North Olympic Healthcare Network we offer both elements of this two-pronged treatment.

Our medical providers, including a team of MAT-dedicated nurses, work to determine the best medication for each patient engaged in our MAT program. Initially working weekly with patients our medical providers monitor MAT patients’ progress adjusting the dose and duration of prescription medications and medical visits. Over time, as patients improve, medical visits can decrease in frequency.

Simultaneously, as medical providers are using medication to address the region of the brain in which cravings reside, our behavioral health therapists work with patients to rally and strengthen skills residing in the thinking and planning region of the brain. Counseling focuses on supporting patients through cognitive-behavioral skill-building that sharpens patients’ ability to recover and make healthy lifestyle choices.

In just the first several months of our MAT program North Olympic Healthcare Network worked with more than 200 people from Clallam County who struggled with opioid addiction. Our County’s opioid crisis affects many local families and North Olympic Healthcare Network plays an important role in turning around the crisis, bringing health and wholeness to those struggling with the disease.

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