Help for Opioid Addiction at SHS

Dr Reddy

Dr. Nallu Reddy is in SHS’s new induction room for medication-assisted treatment of opioid addiction.

Swope Health Services is launching a new program to provide medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction.

The program addresses the increasing need for focused medical assistance in breaking the cycle of addiction to pain relievers, whether prescription or illicit drugs.

“There is an opioid epidemic across the country,” said Mark Miller, Vice President of Behavioral Health Services. Nationally, 90 people die every day from opioid overdose, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. And, the American Society of Addiction Medicine estimates that about 2.5 million Americans are addicted to opioids.

The Kansas City metro area ranks roughly in the middle of the pack in opioid prescriptions and concentration, as measured by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We recognize this is a crisis and people are dying,” said Dr. Nallu Reddy, SHS Chief of Psychiatry. “Our number one goal is to help people stay alive.”

Supported by state and federal grants, the new SHS program will offer suboxone, a prescription medication (also known as naloxone), which helps patients manage an opioid addiction by blocking the opioid receptors in the body.

Anyone who is struggling with opioid addiction resulting from either prescription pain medications or illegal narcotics like heroin is welcome to contact SHS Behavioral Services at our Central Facility (3801 Blue Parkway, Kansas City, Mo.). Walk-in hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or you can call 816-922-1070 for an appointment. These services may be covered by insurance.

To be admitted to the program, a patient must be healthy enough to take the opioid-blocking medication, willing to adhere to program requirements and committed to the initial two- or three-day induction process. The medication-assisted treatment is complemented by therapy, counseling and transportation services as well.

SHS has three medical doctors certified and licensed to provide the special medication-assisted treatment. Patients are expected to stay in the program for a month and then be assessed for next steps in treatment. Each patient receives an individual treatment plan – some patients may be tapered off the medication and others may need continued access to the medication.

Some background:

  • What are opioids? Broadly, the term covers prescription pain relievers, including the synthetic drug fentanyl, as well as illegal drugs like heroin.
  • How did we get to an opioid crisis? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the problems began in the 1990s with the pharmaceutical companies marketing of prescription opioid pain relievers. Providers began prescribing them more at greater rates until it became clear in opioid overdose deaths that the drugs were highly addictive.
  • How bad is it? It’s the deadliest drug crisis in American history. The New York Times reported: “Overdoses killed more people last year than guns or car accidents, and are doing so at a pace faster than the H.I.V. epidemic at its peak.”
  • How do we address the crisis? Nationally, new programs promote greater access to treatment and recovery, and availability of overdose-reversing drugs. Just this summer, the state of Missouri began the creation of a statewide prescription drug monitoring program.

If you have questions about the program or opioid addiction, contact SHS Behavioral Services at the SHS Central Facility at 816-923-5800. Walk-in hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

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