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Allied Addiction Recovery Uses Innovative Methods to Combat Prescription Drug Addiction
By Vanessa Orr

Prescription drug abuse has become a problem of epidemic proportions; since 1990, the overdose death rate in the United States has more than tripled. In Allegheny County alone, there were 21.33 deaths per every 100,000 residents in 2011, and for every death, at least 825 people were abusing prescription medications.

"People begin taking these medications that are prescribed by their doctors or pain clinics to treat legitimate medical conditions, but then get hooked on them," explained Allied Addiction Recovery CEO Barney Seaton, LPC, CAADC. "Part of the problem is that some of these drugs, like Oxycontin, were designed to be used by terminally ill patients. But when doctors and pain clinics started giving these medications to patients who were not terminally ill, they became dependent on them and once their prescriptions ran out, they had to get the drug somewhere."

With people paying $1 per milligram per pill, a person who requires 10 80-milligram pills per day just to 'stay off sick' can end up with an $800 a day habit, according to Seaton. "This leads some people to buy it off the street, take it from sick relatives or steal it from people's medicine cabinets. Because heroin is a lot cheaper, many turn to it for economic reasons."

One treatment that helps is the use of Suboxone®, a drug that helps to stabilize people as they withdraw from prescription drug or heroin use. "Between 2000 and 2010, I began to see more and more people getting Suboxone as a medically assisted treatment, but they still had problems that weren't being addressed," said Seaton, who has been in the field for 26 years and done more than 40,000 evaluations. "Some were still homeless or stealing to get what they needed; if a person only takes Suboxone but does no other treatment, they are at risk of becoming hooked on that drug as well as other addictive substances."

Allied Addiction Recovery offers an innovative program that provides Suboxone in conjunction with abstinence-based counseling. "At our outpatient facility, we use Suboxone to get patients stabilized and then combine this with counseling to get patients completely clean and sober," said Seaton. The majority of patients attend group therapy weekly and monthly individual meetings.

While medical guidelines suggest that treatment can take 18 to 24 months, AAR works to get patients to the point where they can lower the level of Suboxone within six to 12 months. "In the feedback that we receive from patients and medical professionals, we are told that they appreciate that we treat people very respectfully, and that people are getting better with our program," said Seaton.

Christopher and Cindy V. are both AAR patients, and are a testament to the program's success. "Since we've started, our lives have been great," explained Chris. "People are so caring there, and not only does the medicine help, but the counseling they give you makes you not want to use. We don't have the urge to use drugs now when we used to do drugs every day. Now we do things as a family with our kids; our lives have changed completely."

A state-licensed drug and alcohol facility, AAR is one of the few companies that also accepts pregnant women for opiate addiction treatment using Subutex. For more information, visit www.alliedaddictionrecovery.com or call 412-246-8965.

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