Breaking the cycle of drug addiction can be challenging and take a long time. It’s not a matter of simply taking away the drugs, it’s a mental and physical battle. Tonight, in our series, A Shot in the Dark: Shedding Light on the Opioid Crisis, we take a look at what “New Directions,” a branch of Freeman Health System does to fix both.

“Addiction is, the simplest definition is the loss of control over drug use,” says Nauman Ashraf, New Director, Freeman Health System.

After years of using opioids, getting clean isn’t just a one step process.

“The minimum time I would recommend for anyone is a year at least,” says Nauman Ashraf.

New Directions in Joplin has what’s called a suboxone clinic.

“For suboxone it’s a partial antagonist, it binds to the receptor, provides some stimulation to the receptor that treats the craving and prevent the withdrawal, but it doesn’t provide it doesn’t give you that much stimulation that you feel high or intoxicated or feel very high like you do on other opioids,” says Ashraf.

Getting a dose of suboxone is step one in the long process of curing an opioid addiction.

“The first thing is you have to get the medication in them to stabilize them so you can break the cycle of withdrawals and cravings,” says Ashraf.

It isn’t just replacing one drug with another and there is no “high” with it.

“So it’s in some ways, yes it looks like you’re replacing heroin with suboxone, even if you look at that notion, it’s still a better medication that you’re replacing heroin with because of the ceiling effect, because of it’s infinity on the receptor that it binds so tightly that it’s going to out-compete any other drug,” says Ashraf.

That also prevents overdoses in the unfortunate case the patient relapses. But suboxone isn’t a “fix all” medication.

“With suboxone you don’t get that, it just surpesses the cravings so you can feel quote un quote sort of normal and you can go about you regular activities of life,” says Nauman Ashraf.

Once a patient becomes stable, the next step is fixing psychological drive.

“You work on the addiction piece of it the behavioral piece of it so you fixed the behavioral dependent so now it’s the psychological piece,” says Nauman Ashraf.
Doctors say they have a high success rate with this treatment. But the most important piece in getting clean is the patient wanting to get clean.

“They have to have their buy in to this, and they have to work on their disease, we just provide them tools to fight this addiction, of course they have to fight it, they have to be motivated,” says Ashraf.

We’ve provided a link to contact information as well as answers to questions you might have about the suboxone clinic here.