eNewsletter - Aug 2017

Behavioral Health Partners


Suboxone treatment: medication assisted therapy programs helping individuals break free from opioid addiction

Many of us have followed the opioid epidemic in the media, through community involvement, or through our own professional relationships with clients.  Many others have learned about it much closer to home when a loved one has struggled to stop using heroin or a prescription pain-killer, such as oxycodone or hydrocodone.  

Opioid addiction statistics keep increasing. According to clinical psychologist Aaron Weiner, Ph.D., Director of Addictions Services at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health, “A study of Blue Cross and Blue Shield members shows almost a 500 percent increase in opioid use disorder from 2010 to 2016.”

We know that more and more individuals need treatment for opioid addiction but unfortunately many of the most effective treatment programs on the market are not easily accessible.  While the BCBS study showed opioid use increased dramatically, there was only a 65 percent increase in enrollment in medication-assisted treatment programs, which combine professional counseling with medication for opioid addiction. 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse cites medication-assisted treatment programs as decreasing both opioid use and opioid-related deaths, as well as increasing the patient’s ability to function and stay in treatment.  The success rate is better than traditional addiction treatment programs who do not use medication. 

Responding to the urgent need in our community, Linden Oaks’ opened a Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT) Clinic which offers medication-assisted treatment to area residents trying to quit opioids.  The Naperville-based clinic combines outpatient group therapy, individual case management, and medication management with a Suboxone prescriber.

Why treat with Suboxone?

The grueling nature of opioid withdrawal is one of the main reasons users continue drug use.  Two of the primary drugs for opioid addiction treatment are Methadone and Suboxone.  Both virtually eliminate withdrawal symptoms by activating the same receptors in the brain as other narcotics. 

Says Dr. Weiner, “Suboxone, which is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, offers some advantages over methadone:  Buprenorphine is gentler than methadone in activating the receptors, making it less sedating and easier to taper off (gradually reduce dosage).  Also, Suboxone is picked up from a pharmacy, allowing the patient to receive as much as a month’s supply at a time.  Methadone requires daily visits to a clinic, at least initially.  It’s more intrusive in your life.”

Suboxone also helps reduce cravings and prevents the person from getting high when using other opioids.   

Says Dr. Weiner, “Ultimately we want people at the lowest comfortable dosage of Suboxone at any given point.  Our goal is not to keep prescribing indefinitely.  We will help them taper off until they are ready to be on their own.”

Mind and body Treatment

 “With the withdrawal symptoms and cravings controlled using Suboxone, the person can focus on getting well.   For the social and psychological aspects of addiction, our therapy groups are the primary change agent.” Dr. Weiner says.   

A visit to the MAT clinic includes not only a urine drug testing and individual Suboxone management session with the advanced practice nurse or psychiatrist but, group therapy as well.

In the one-hour group sessions, the master’s degreed professionals incorporate several research-backed types of therapy:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy helps patients challenge negative patterns of thought that lead them to unwanted emotions and behaviors, including acting on cravings.
  • Motivational interviewing explores patient’s mixed feelings about change, resolving feelings of ambivalence and enhancing motivation for sobriety.
  • Mindfulness increases a patient’s awareness of thoughts and feelings, allowing them to respond to them thoughtfully, rather than just react.  Mindfulness helps cultivate calmness even when faced with unwelcome events, such as cravings or triggers for use.

Says Dr. Weiner, “Just as the medication dosage is tapered off, participation in group therapy also tapers off based on the person’s needs.  Initially, weekly sessions are the norm.  If everything goes well, therapy is cut back to every other week, and then monthly visits.”

“We don’t want to keep someone in treatment for any longer than they need to be.  We give them all the support they need early in the process, and provide them with tools to cope with life’s challenges when treatment is over.”

How to know if the clinic is right for you

An assessment for the MAT clinic, which is located at the Linden Oaks Mill Street site, is open to adult age 18 and older who is motivated to stop using opioids.  No physician referral is needed.  Some people can begin their treatment journey at the clinic.

Others use it as a step-down from a more intensive treatment level, such as inpatient care, Partial Hospitalization or an Intensive Outpatient Program, either at Linden Oaks or another health care facility.

To schedule a free, confidential assessment call 630-305-5027 and tell them that you would like to find out if the MAT Clinic is right for you.