Drug addiction doesn’t care where it strikes.
It might hit someone in a major metropolitan area with access to a wealth of medical resources. But it’s just as likely to affect someone in a rural area without access to proper treatment services.
Fortunately there’s new hope for people in that second category, at least in one part of the country. According to Kaiser Health News, a new federal program is using telemedicine to connect patients with doctors who know how to treat addiction.
The $1.4 million pilot program — targeting areas in Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee comes at a time when prescription painkiller addiction is reaching epidemic heights.
“This is an obvious potential direction to move in,” said Colleen Barry, a professor of health policy at Johns Hopkins University and co-director of its Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy Research, told KHN. “There are some real opportunities — and some pretty significant challenges.”
States like Virginia are prime targets for the program. Nearly 5 percent of the state’s population abused prescription opioids last year, and the state marked 600 deaths connected to the drugs between 2015 and 2016.
And some of those deaths happened in counties with little counseling options, which is why telemedicine can be so vital.
So far, patients have welcomed the service, although it’s not without both logistical and regulatory obstacles, KHN says.
“For starters, the meds needed to treat opioid addiction require complex in-person procedures and regular follow-up, limiting what can be done remotely,” said Dr. Richard Merkel, an associate professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioral science at the University of Virginia, one of the pilot sites.
Prescribing and monitoring medications has to happen face to face, by a doctor licensed by the DEA. The university is considering regional centers where patients can go to get the medications they need as they come off opioids.
Another challenge is payment. While the federal funding covers technology, it doesn’t pay for the treatment itself, leading hospitals to work with different insurers to make sure the telemedicine is covered. This can leave a lot of patients paying out of pocket for their care. Many are uninsured to begin with.
“We’re trying to hire more faculty and advanced nurses, but unless there’s reimbursement at some level, we just can’t do that,” Merkel said. “All of this becomes just a nice idea.”
For those in post recovery and in need of counseling, Recovery Care Partner provides video chat resources for sober companions.
Addiction can sometimes be a tricky thing to treat. Medication is often prescribed to assist an addict going through withdrawal symptoms. However, with varying kinds of drugs and levels of dependency, it can be unclear as to the right amount of (if any) medication should be prescribed to people battling addiction. For the benefit of a patient’s addiction education, we’ve chosen to focus on a controversial prescription drug known as Suboxone.
One of the most debated medications for treatment is Suboxone. A mixture between buprenorphine and naloxone, Suboxone is an FDA approved drug known for treating opiate addiction. The problem with the drug is that, depending on how addicted someone is to an opiate, Suboxone can itself be abused. It works as another drug that replaces the current one, and in some cases can even make thing worse. But is that true for everyone? What do we know about Suboxone, and how can we determine if it is the right medication for us? Ultimately, the decision to take suboxone has to be made with your doctor, but to help better understand the nature of the drug, please take a look at the following information for your addiction education.
The nature of Suboxone
Suboxone is used as a replacement drug that connects to the receptors of the brain that once craved the opiates. Once the chemicals in Suboxone attach themselves to the receptors, they act as a blocking system that prevents any of the opiates from attaching themselves to the brain. This has proven to be very effective at keeping users off other drugs.
However, those who are not previously addicted to a drug can easily abuse Suboxone. Suboxone offers a unique high for those who are not at all addicted to opiates or pain medications. This becomes dangerous, especially when Suboxone is taken with Alcohol.
However, even those who were prescribed Suboxone can become addicted to it. The goal of any treatment is to get clean off a harmful addiction. Suboxone is ultimately meant to get someone off addiction; but it can still lead to another habitual cycle.
So how do I know if I should take Suboxone or not? Well, your doctor and those who understand the nature of your addiction ultimately determine that. Suboxone should not be abused, but it definitely should not be feared if it is a necessary treatment. Follow your doctor’s instructions as to how and when you should take your Suboxone medication. However, if Suboxone is not for you, there are many more treatments available here at Recovery Care Partner that are just as effective. Your doctors and Recovery Care counselors will provide the proper level of addiction education for whatever concerns you may have.
See one of our earlier blogs for further addiction education on other prescription medications.Learn More
Another process just as important as the in-patient recovery period is post-treatment. This is when the patient moves on and has to re-enter the world with the skills and treatment they gained while in the facility. This is a very crucial period since many people tend to relapse within 90 days after treatment. However, this does not have to be your story, since having a sober companion post-treatment can be the natural support you need. With one of Recovery Care Partner’s sober companions by your side, you can learn to hold your ground much easier against the fears, temptations, and struggles of life.
Increased social skills
One of the most common temptations when dealing with the aches of recovery is to just lock yourself in and not talk to anybody. Sometimes we don’t want to deal with answering questions from certain people who remind us of our past troubles. These can include family, friends, coworkers, or anybody else with complicated history. But with a sober companion, they can help build up your confidence to be socially open again. They can help you hold together when adjusting to your life once again.
One of the benefits about having a sober companion through the recovery process is that they can help keep you accountable. We often experience anxiety, depression, and other problems as we try to re-enter the world. At least in the beginning, it is extremely difficult to make it through to full recovery by going at it alone. Most patients end up relapsing by staying solitary, but those chances decrease significantly once you have someone by your side. By learning to open yourself up about your real concerns and thoughts, you will grow stronger and more in control as a result. The support of someone else grants a therapeutic opportunity for you to better understand the heart of your own struggles and character.
At the end of the day, recovery is a journey. Battles will be won and lost along the way, but what is important is to never give up the fight to recovery. The best way to keep you on top is to stay accountable with someone else. Addiction is a battle of the mind as well as the body. That is why it is important to keep your mind clear with a sober companion when you both set out to reclaim the world. Addiction might have taken many things away, but now you will have so much more than you ever could imagine. Besides, you might just find a lasting friendship at the end of it.Learn More
What we hope for makes a big difference as to how we live our lives and especially for how we overcome our addiction. Here at Recovery Care Partner, our sober coaching department believes in everyone’s capability to succeed. And that starts with believing your recovery is possible. Once we have a true sense of confidence, will be more willing to make it through recovery. However, if we ultimately don’t have faith in the future, we will grow more comfortable with defeat. We will rationalize our own addictive nature to relapse. Although faith makes a big difference, it is near impossible to “just believe” and then move forward. How do we get to a sense of confidence with the constant threat of our compulsions?
Hope from the Outside
We’ve heard it a million times, and we all know that we cannot get through addiction on our own. The reason for that is because addiction manipulates our mind and body with urgent dependency. Before recovery, dependency is at its most problematic and we can barely control ourselves. After a certain point, it is hard to believe in any hope on our own ability. But once we receive help from someone outside (i.e. our sober coaching mentors, counselors, and companions) then solutions begin to appear tangible. This lesson is one of the foundations of Recovery Care Partner: support that can make you strong enough to live your life addiction free.
How Sober Coaching Nurtures Self Reliance
At Recovery Care Partner, we offer you much needed moral, physical, medical, and relational support. You will meet counselors, companions and friends that will coach and guide you on your journey to recovery. However, the goal of our support is not only to keep you stable, but also to offer you the self-discipline to fight addiction yourself. Post recovery, you won’t always have our support to keep you stable. That is why we offer you the sober coaching skills and disciplines to eventually stand on your own two feet against addiction. Addiction is a disease that abuses our capacity to support ourselves; so our philosophy is that Hope for healthy living comes not only from outside support, but from internal support as well. At that point, you will be able to see that hope come to fruition. It is both greater than any troubles, and manifested through our love and support.Learn More