Weekly Feature



2017-05-18 / Front Page

Methadone clinic to be added to addiction services facility on OP border

by CHRIS GRAHAM
Orchard Park Editor

Citizens in the Southtowns dealing with addiction to opioids will soon be aided by the addition of a methadone clinic in Hamburg that is attempting to make it easier for those battling addiction to find help in the region.

The clinic, which is expected to open in the fall, will be inside Lake Shore Behavioral Health Abbott Corners Addiction Services, located at 3176 Abbott Road, Suite 500, near Lake Avenue. The clinic is on the Hamburg-Orchard Park border.

The facility currently offers addiction services and mental health counseling for adults and adolescents, but Howard Hitzel, president of Lake Shore Behavioral Health, felt there was a need for a methadone clinic in the area.

Hitzel said plans for an expansion have been in place since last summer. An application for expansion was sent to the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, the body that oversees substance abuse centers, in the fall. The expansion was approved earlier this year.

“We felt there was a need, especially in the Southtowns, for more access to treatment for people with opioid addictions,” Hitzel said.

Methadone is a drug primarily used to treat individuals who are addicted to heroin or other narcotic pain medication.

Lake Shore Behavioral Health has been around for 45 years and has been at the Hamburg location for close to 10 years. It currently has 347 clients. A recent study by the facility said 21 percent of its clients identified as being addicted to heroin, while 25 percent cited another opioid.

The center has been providing medication-assisted treatment for a number of years, including doses of Suboxone and Vivitrol since 2013.

Hitzel referred to methadone as the “gold standard” of treatment, but he said it has been exclusive to treatment centers in the City of Buffalo.

“Methadone has always just been available in the city. It’s not been available elsewhere,” he said. “It’s a better treatment modality for them, and we felt it was unfortunate that that wasn’t available in the Southtowns, so that’s one of the reasons we wanted it to be available.”

To distribute methadone at the clinic, Hitzel said the center had to receive approval from the state and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The certification for the clinic allows it to treat 100 patients. The patients would be individuals who are already in the substance abuse program at the location. Hitzel said it would be for patients who are not receiving an adequate response to other treatments and are still struggling with managing their addiction. Once the 100 slots are filled, Hitzel said there could be a waiting list for the individuals to receive methadone treatments from the center. Waiting lists can be more than six to eight weeks.

The Abbott Corners Methadone Program will distribute the medication seven days a week from 6 to 9 a.m. The clinic will have a separate entrance, and an armed guard will be in place from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m.

Hitzel said all 100 patients will schedule a time during the three-hour period. They will check in with a nurse and receive a liquid-form dosage of methadone. They’ll be observed while taking the drug and then leave the facility. He added that each patient would be at the clinic for three to five minutes.

On concerns that those obtaining methadone will be lingering around the facility, Hitzel said there is a set of rules they have to abide by.

“People will be expected to follow the protocol so people who are showing up at inappropriate times or not behaving appropriately would risk being discontinued from the program,” he said.

There will be a director who manages the clinic, according to Hitzel.

Hitzel believes that the center, located within a commercial park, is an ideal location for the clinic.

“We’ve been here for 10 years, and this is essentially the same population of people we’ve been serving for 10 years, and we’ve really had no difficulties,” he said. We don’t expect there to be issues.”

Those who are selected for methadone are enrolled in a treatment program that involves group therapy and counseling to support their recovery, according to Hitzel.

“This is a component of a bigger treatment program,” he said. “It’s another tool in our bag to help people in their recovery and maintaining their sobriety.”

The center has worked with local governments by holding meetings with Hamburg Town Supervisor Steven Walters and Police Chief Gregory Wickett. For residents, the center held a community meeting on May 4. The meeting was attended by about 30 people, Hitzel said.

“We’ve been networking in the community so people know what it is we’re intending to do and understand the need for it,” he said. “Without exception, everyone I’ve talked to in the Town of Hamburg has been understanding and supportive that this is something we need.”

Adding that opioid addiction has become a major problem in the suburbs, Hitzel said it’s crazy that someone has to go into the city to receive methadone.

“I don’t think we would ever treat any other chronic illness in that regard,” he said. “It’s a difficult circumstance for people who are trying to get treatment for their addictions.”

Hitzel said there is no plan to do another community meeting but added that center officials are willing to talk with anyone who has questions about the expansion.

For more information on the clinic, visit www.lake-shore.org.

email: cgraham@beenews.com

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