First methadone clinic in northern Ky. opens

COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) — The first full-service substance-abuse treatment center that offers methadone therapy has opened in northern Kentucky.

The Kentucky Enquirer (bit.ly/1798aHS) reports NKY Med Clinic opened this month in Covington and instantly had hundreds of addicts and families reaching out for help.

The clinic opened as the region fights a heroin epidemic and the number of overdose deaths has skyrocketed. Leaders battling illegal drugs welcomed the center.

“Methadone treatment is one of the standards of care for outpatient maintenance of opioid addiction,” said Dr. Jeremy Engel, a public health activist and St. Elizabeth’s physician who leads the Northern Kentucky Heroin Impact and Response Workgroup.

“Our community will save lives, reduce crime, decrease mortality and help these people move into a healthier, productive life,” Engel said.

Van Ingram, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, said the clinic is one of 12 across the state and the only one in northern Kentucky.

“It has been needed for many years in this part of the state, as we all know,” said Dr. Joseph Pritchard, chief operating officer of Pinnacle Treatment Centers. “Individuals in Northern Kentucky have been having to travel sometimes great distances to get help.”

He said the center will not accept Medicaid, and that patients will pay for its services. Pritchard said treatment will cost an average of about $400 monthly, which is less than most addicts spend on drugs.

The clinic will also prescribe Suboxone, which is a newer drug to help relieve addiction and withdrawal symptoms.

Methadone and Suboxone help drug users “smooth out and manage withdrawal symptoms,” Pritchard said.

“We have to get that person through the initial withdrawal,” he said.

That takes time, he said, noting that the brain chemistry of an opioid addict is different from that of a healthy person.

“The brain doesn’t restore itself until 12 months or more. The person needs time to heal.”

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Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com

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