New program helps with opioid & painkiller addictions

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH)– There’s a new program for the increasing number of people addicted to opioids or painkillers and it’s having success in breaking the cycle of addiction.

This is a unique way of treating patients addicted to painkillers. The program is underway at Rushford, where group therapy and medication are having a big impact on patients like Ellen.

The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman put a famous face on the alarming rate of deaths from accidental opioid-related overdoses.

“A lot of stressors in my life that got to the point that I needed something to get through the day,” said Ellen, a patient.

Just like Hoffman, heroin was the drug of choice for Ellen, who requested anonymity.

“Heroin, took away the pain and the misery that I was feeling at the time,” said Ellen. “I was probably doing at least a bundle a day. That would be 10 bags a day.”

She is now at Rushford getting help through its Medication Assisted Treatment. The program combines the drug suboxone and therapy.

Medical Director Dr. J. Craig Allen is also her physician.

“Compare to any treatment for opiate dependency the most successful treatments are the medication assisted treatments,” said Allen.

In this case, Suboxone breaks the cycle of addiction by blocking receptors in the brain.

suboxone New program helps with opioid & painkiller addictions

“It’s a partial agonist, so that you feel normal without feeling high and you don’t feel sick. You don’t feel the cravings and the urges to use,” said Allen.

Struggling on her own, Ellen is no longer on heroin.

“With the suboxone, it really, really helped to alleviate the cravings,” said Ellen.

The group therapy also a major factor in her recovery.

group therapy

“You’re learning other ways to deal with that conflict, to deal with those uncomfortable feelings that all of us have,” said Allen.

“I’m looking forward to staying clean and someday getting off the suboxone and not have to depend on any kind of drugs in my life,” said Ellen.

Dr. Allen says substance abuse turns into a chronic brain disease, and just like other illnesses requires medication and education so patients can live a normal functional life.

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