2016-02-18 / Front Page

Recovery in progress

Opiate addiction treatment center marks second year in Claremont
By Allan Stein

Recover Together Chief Operating Officer Joy Sun (left) and Heather Prebish, clinical director. — ALLAN STEINRecover Together Chief Operating Officer Joy Sun (left) and Heather Prebish, clinical director. — ALLAN STEINCLAREMONT — Two years ago, Recover Together for the treatment of opiate addiction opened at 130 Pleasant St. in Claremont to provide life-saving therapy at an affordable price to those who need it.

The continual growth in demand for services prompted the recent move of the medical practice into larger quarters in the Moody Building at 24 Tremont St. in downtown Claremont.

"It has been a pretty incredible journey" since Recover Together founder Jeff Deflavio opened the doors to the first clinic in Claremont in January 2014, said Chief Operating Officer Joy Sun.

Today, the organization serves approximately 600 clients at seven locations across New Hampshire and Maine.

Recover Together currently has 150 clients in the Claremont area. The New Hampshire program includes five counselors, five coordinators, and 10 physicians.

Two additional clinics are in the works — one in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which opens next month, and another in Laconia. Recover Together also has plans to open in Ohio.

"Our hope is to grow. We think there is a need to grow the program significantly more," said Sun.

Sun said Recover Together was founded on the idea that the current market approach to the treatment of opiate addiction doesn't work.

People who are addicted to opiates are seeking treatment, she said, though healthcare providers won't serve them.

"Our focus is on rural and suburban areas that have been hardest hit by the opiate epidemic yet have the fewest treatment resources — places like Claremont," she said. 

At Recover Together, the program of "self-pay" treatment costs $65 a week for Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) and group therapy. The agency does not accept insurance and is completely client funded. 

The medication prescribed, buprenorphine (Suboxone), blocks the craving for opiates while allowing recovering addicts the ability to function without feeling high.

Clients attend weekly group therapy sessions to work through their feelings and to learn how to reconnect with others.

"We know we can cut the death rate in half with this treatment," said Sun.

The combination of MAT and group therapy is a proven effective tool used to treat opiate addiction, said Recover Together Clinical Director Heather Prebish, also a member of the Windsor, Vermont selectboard.

MAT reduces mortality by a third and it lowers the risk of transmitting diseases like HIV and hepatitis. The treatment also decreases healthcare costs by over 60 percent per patient, according to the Recover Together website.

As part of their treatment, clients are prescribed Suboxone for a duration of 18 to 24 months. Clients are then weaned off the drug over a period of several months until they are completely sober and drug free.

"We feel that two years is a good amount of time for people's bodies to begin to heal and for people to acquire the tools necessary for recovery," said Prebish.

Sun acknowledged that Suboxone abuse and diversion is a problem. She said many addicts will try to stop using by illegally obtaining Suboxone to control their need for heroin. 

"They are desperate to stop using. They are not trying to get high," she said. "Programs like ours will hopefully reduce that type of [Suboxone] diversion."


Prebish said a negative public image holds that MAT simply promotes the use — and abuse — of prescription drugs to treat opiate addiction.

"We really have to re-evaluate these negative stereotypes that you are using a drug to manage an addiction. I have seen a lot of people stop using [opiates] thanks to buprenorphine," said Prebish.


 


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