Doctors stress new era in medication-based treatment

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Hazelden Beaverton's Clinical Director Pat Gordon-Rice, left, and Dr. Andy Mendenhall stand in the Bethany drug and alcohol addiction center's detox room.Breaking the behavioral cycle of drug and alcohol addiction will never be a walk in the park.

Doctors at the newly restructured Hazelden Beaverton adult services facility believe, however, that newer, targeted medications that help stabilize an addict’s brain chemistry — easing withdrawal symptoms and curbing cravings in the process — represent the future of addiction treatment.

“The importance of medications to help patients experience fewer cravings of drugs and alcohol, along with really good psychiatric care — and you need to treat depression along with (addiction) simultaneously — we know if we do that, the person is more likely to remain sober and achieve a sustained recovery,” says Dr. Andy Mendenhall, one of two outpatient medical directors at Hazelden Beaverton, formerly HealthWorks Northwest.

By joining forces with Minnesota-based Hazelden addiction treatment services and expanding the facility, Medenhall and Dr. Paul Conti, his fellow outpatient medical director, are broadening their commitment to provide caring, cutting-edge addiction treatment options in the Beaverton area. The adult services clinic at 1500 N.W. Bethany Blvd., Suite 240, recently celebrated its new collaboration and added space with a dedication and open house on March 15.

Considering HealthWorks Northwest a good fit for its adjunctive medication-assisted treatment to address opioid addiction, the nonprofit Hazelden acquired HealthWorks Northwest’s assets in fall 2013. The 4,500-square-foot clinic was expanded to 6,500 square feet and now complements the residential addiction treatment services available at Hazelden Springbrook in Newberg.

“Paul and I founded HealthWorks Northwest in February 2010 with a vision of providing treatment for substance abuse disorders, mental health and pain,” Mendenhall says. “That vision has been part of the Hazelden model for some time, so they sought us out. It was a similar, shared vision that brought us together.”

New strategy

From individual, couples and family-based therapy, to medication-assisted treatment, family support programs, and assessment and recovery management programs, Hazelden Beaverton provides an array of treatment-related services. With support from the Hazelden network along with the improved and expanded facilities, Conti is confident the clinic is better positioned than ever to be a community health touchstone.

“We’ve always had a desire to grow and serve more people,” he says. “We would’ve done that on our own (but) we were very fortunate Hazelden was interested in us.”

Targeted medications such as Bupernorphine, Vivitrol and Naltrexone provide doctors and clinics a new arsenal with which to augment its 12-step recovery and therapy-based programs. The tools are particularly effective given the epidemic of heroin and prescription painkiller abuse in the Portland area.

“The opiate epidemic is a game changer for substance abuse treatment,” Conti says. “More people die of opioid overdoses than anything else in America. More than car accidents. They’re so powerful and so dangerous, they warrant intervention with these medications.”

He emphasizes, however, that even the most advanced medications provide just a piece of the treatment-solution puzzle.

“Medications alone don’t help enough. We don’t just provide prescriptions,” he says. “We provide treatment over the course of weeks, months or longer for a person to remain clean and sober. Medications can help with that by stabilizing brain chemistry.”

Hazelden offers an outpatient treatment program that begins with a two-week regimen of opiate-blocking medication that segues into group therapy and other interactive aspects of treatment.

“When people are medically detoxified, their biology is stabilized and they’re better able to engage in treatment,” Mendenhall says. “Group treatment is absolutely essential. Meeting with others suffering the same condition empowers them, allows them to feel hope, a sense of fellowship and sharing with each other — working in support of each other.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Hazelden Beaverton's Brittany Onstott organizes one of the doctor's offices in the newly remodeled facility on Bethany Boulevard.

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