Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

January 18, 2010

Addicts get help at Hand of Hope

Suboxone treatment part of the answer

ASHLAND — It is not a magic pill, although many people who have struggled with addiction issues swear Suboxone was a big part of the answer to their prayers.

“The Suboxone is not the treatment. The therapy is the treatment,” said Dr. Kathie Watson-Gray, medical director at Hand of Hope in Ashland, explaining the organization’s efforts to assist Kentucky residents with addictions to substances, including prescription pain pills.

Watson-Gray and Hand of Hope owner/program director Paul Vernier agree there are many misconceptions about Suboxone. Both hope to avoid any confusion about their practice of using Suboxone therapy to help people recover from narcotic dependency, as well as other treatments to assist with addictions to alcohol and other substances.

Suboxone, each said, has worked well for people addicted to painkillers from prescription narcotics to heroin, but isn’t a good tool for those recovering from dependence upon substances such as alcohol or cocaine.

The doctor said mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety, which often accompany or even help cause addictive behaviors, must also be addressed as part of a successful recovery from addiction.

Emphasizing Hand of Hope is not a “pain clinic,” or a methadone dispensary, Watson-Gray said she works with patients on all sorts of health concerns, and the facility also provides counseling for addicts as well as their families.

The Ashland location, which has been in operation since November, resulted from daily inquiries about Suboxone therapy from Kentucky residents at the Ironton CAO Family Guidance Center, where Vernier and Watson-Gray also work with people recovering from addiction.

“We continually had Kentucky residents seeking help there,” Vernier said, explaining Kentucky’s Medicaid program would not pay for treatment in Ohio, even though the Ironton program serves many Ohio Medicaid patients. “The cost to them was more than they could pay.”

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