Medication, Therapy Program Undergoes Expansion
By Josh Mitchell
Corinth Today News Editor
“Countless people” have been helped by a growing Corinth program that combines medication and therapy to fight opioid use disorder, an official said.
Medication-Assisted Treatment is expanding in Corinth and will now be administered in Region IV’s inpatient facility near the hospital. It has been offered on an outpatient basis through Region IV Mental Health Services in Corinth for about a year and a half.
“It is a total success,” said Adrian Owen, Region IV’s director of substance use.
The treatment works by prescribing medications to help with cravings while the person also takes part in therapy. People who were addicted to opioids are now fully employed, rebuilding relationships, regaining self confidence and getting the “sparkle in their eyes back,” Owen said.
“It’s called withdrawal management,” she added.
The medications help withdrawal symptoms while the person undergoes counseling, such as intensive outpatient therapy and peer support.
About 40 people are enrolled in the outpatient medication-assisted treatment program each month who receive financial assistance, and a few more pay their own way. The goal is for the people to fully taper off the medication they use to fight the cravings. This has not happened yet, but Owen is optimistic that it soon will.
The two primary medications used in the program — suboxone and naltrexone — are taken orally each day. Suboxone is a controlled substance, but naltrexone is not and is “very mild” in comparison, Owen said. There is also a shot called vivitrol, which can be administered once a month as treatment progresses.
Region IV Mental Health Services covers a five-county area, and Corinth is currently the only location where medication-assisted treatment is offered. It may be expanded to DeSoto County next year, Owen said. People come to Corinth from throughout the region and even from out of state to use the program, she added.
Region IV’s Chemical Dependency Complex has been certified by the Board of Pharmacy to offer the program on an inpatient basis.
There are some people who disagree with medication-assisted treatment because they feel it just replaces opioids with another drug, Owen said. But she noted that Region IV’s program is an “evidence-based” treatment that uses therapy in combination with medication to help people battling opioid use disorder after being clinically assessed.
It is “rewarding” to offer a program that can prevent deaths, overdoses and improve people’s quality of life, she said. The length of time a person is in the program is individualized and could range from a few months to years, Owen said.