PLATTSBURGH — Locals suffering from opiate addiction can now receive methadone treatment in the North Country.
In November, Conifer Park’s Plattsburgh Outpatient Clinic launched a methadone maintenance program, which, according to Joe LaCoppola, assistant director of Outpatient Services for Conifer Park, is the first of its kind to open in the state in 15 years.
Previously, he noted, area residents would have to travel to Albany almost daily to receive the medication.
“We believe as an agency it’s important for people to receive treatment in the community they reside in,” LaCoppola said.
Though methadone is itself an opiate, it is given in therapeutic doses, which are just enough to prevent opiate withdrawal symptoms, according to Michelle Collings, director of the Plattsburgh Outpatient Clinic.
However, she continued, such doses are low enough that patients do not exhibit any signs or symptoms of being under the influence.
Because individuals are coming to the clinic six days a week to receive the medication, Collings said, they are being medically monitored and are less likely to divert from treatment.
‘THE WHOLE PERSON’
Unlike many methadone programs, LaCoppola noted, Plattsburgh’s requires patients to engage in treatment, including group and individual therapy, in addition to receiving the drug.
“They’ve got to be committed to come into treatment because we can give anybody all the medication in the world, but if they don’t really understand this disease of addiction and get the tools that they need … they’re really not going to do well,” he said.
The clinic, Collings added, strives to educate clients about their addiction and teach coping skills to prevent relapse.
Patients are also provided assistance with things like finding a primary care physician and gaining employment and are encouraged to attend self-help meetings.
“We treat the whole person,” Collings said.