Montgomery County to start treating opioid addiction with new program

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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What You Need To Know: Opioids

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

With the area still in the midst of an opioid crisis, Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County is offering in-house medication-assisted treatment for residents seeking to recover from addiction.

The program marks a change for the department, which has typically only referred people to other programs. Medication treatments have been offered on a small scale for the last couple of months, but with the formal launch of the program, the county will begin actively seeking out patients.

Overdose deaths in Montgomery County dropped to 40 in July and August, and could be even lower in September if the preliminary numbers hold up. That marks a huge decline from May, when there were 81 deaths. Despite the recent decline, the county has had a record number of overdoses this year with more than 500, easily surpassing last year’s total of 349.

Medications like buprenorphine or naltrexone, when part of a bigger treatment plan, can help people recovering from addiction, said Dr. Michael Dohn, Public Health medical director.

RELATED: $2M federal grant to aid Montgomery County opioid overdose response

Public Health is hosting an Open House for its new opioid medication-assisted treatment program at 2 p.m. Friday at 1 Elizabeth Place. For more information about the program, call 937-461-5223.

Dohn said the medication is given as part of a broader treatment when trying to reach lifelong recovery.

“Recovery really involves often times an entire lifestyle change. It may involve getting into a different environment. It may involve changing your social network,” he said. The 12-step recovery program, group counseling and medication are all part of the treatment.

The program will take Medicaid or people can self pay.

MORE: Recovery housing key to reducing OD deaths, county group says

Public Health has been investing in a dedicated space for the program at Elizabeth Place along with staff for the program, including a case manager and a nurse practitioner. Dohn started in January as a full-time medical director with the understanding he would get the licensing from the Drug Enforcement Administration to do medication-assisted therapy.

RELATED: Detox facility planned by region’s hospitals, community partners

Dohn said it can be burdensome for primary care providers to get the training and keep up with the specific DEA regulations for medication assisted treatment.

Wright State University's Boonshoft School of Medicine recently received a grant to help train local physicians about the specific skills to treat addiction with medication, and also help doctors get comfortable with medication as a therapy option.

RELATED: Montgomery County hospital ERs lead state in overdose visits

Dohn said treating addiction with medication is an idea that’s being increasingly accepted by doctors in the field.

“I think people are being persuaded that it shows good treatment success and it’s being increasingly accepted across the field of addiction treatment,” he said.

What kind of medications can help treat opioid addiction?

  • The most common are methadone and buprenorphine, which trick the brain into thinking it is still getting the problem opioid. The person taking the medication feels normal, not high, and withdrawal does not occur. They also reduce cravings.
  • Another drug, naltrexone, helps overcome addiction in a different way. It blocks the effect of opioid drugs. This takes away the feeling of getting high if the problem drug is used again.

Source: Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine

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