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Diet, Food & Fitness

Ask Our Expert: Treating Opioid Addiction

Diet, Food & Fitness
Ask Our Expert: Treating Opioid Addiction

We asked Dr. Luke Bergmann, PhD, NYC Health + Hospitals Senior Director and Clinical Lead for Substance Use Services, to discuss details about programs and services at our four Opioid Treatment Programs, 11 outpatient substance use disorder programs, and growing number of primary care practices that have capacity to treat addiction.

Dr. Luke Bergmann, NYC Health + Hospitals Senior Director and Clinical Lead for Substance Use Services

WHAT IS THE TRADITIONAL APPROACH TO TREATING OPIOID ADDICTION?
The conventional response to patients in opioid addiction crisis has been to place them in a withdrawal-based detox program. We now know that this approach doesn’t lead to positive outcomes, or the likelihood of longstanding recovery from addiction. In fact, detox protocols can leave patients at greater risk of opioid overdose death.
WHAT DOES NYC HEALTH + HOSPITALS DO INSTEAD?
NYC Health + Hospitals, our goal is to stabilize patients and provide them with safe opioid medication (methadone and buprenorphine) within our care settings. Although the opioid crisis has been fueled, in part, by overprescribing, if administered correctly and under safe circumstances, treatment of opioid use disorder with these medications results in more positive outcomes than any other pharmacological or behavioral-therapeutic treatment.
WHAT CAN A PATIENT EXPECT IN OUR OPIOID PROGRAMS?
Patients can expect care that is tailored to their needs and wishes – care that is patient centered. In our Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) most patients are being treated with methadone, and come to the clinic several days each week to receive their medication with nurse observation. Both our OTPs and increasingly our primary care clinics also offer treatment with buprenorphine, which doesn’t require such frequent clinic visits.
For many, counseling is an important part of treatment of Opioid Use Disorder, and our opioid treatment programs make employment readiness and other recovery supports – such as peer advocacy – available. Some patients will continue receiving treatment with methadone or buprenorphine for extended periods, and those who do show significantly reduced rates of ED and inpatient hospital utilization, and generally have better health outcomes.
Opioid Use Disorder is a terrible and deadly disease. But, treating it can be a truly gratifying clinical experience, because we have treatment that works so well, and we can see our patients’ lives stabilizing and improving so dramatically right before our eyes.
If you have an addiction or substance use problem that you need help with, our doctors can help.
For more information contact one of our Opioid Treatment Programs:

  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst – Opioid Treatment Program
    Annex O –  2nd floor
    81-09 41st Avenue (corner of 81st street)
    Elmhurst, NY 11373
    718-334-3190

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