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Addiction Psychiatry

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Since 1966, The University of Kansas Health System has offered outpatient opioid addiction treatment. We offer the most comprehensive medication-assisted treatment for opioid-use disorder in the Kansas City region, including all of the most effective medications. We are a federally licensed Opioid Treatment Program (OTP), and as such, offer additional legal protections designed to protect the confidentiality of those seeking treatment.

We accept pregnant women for methadone or buprenorphine medication-assisted treatment. These treatments may help stop drug use during pregnancy and are recommended by obstetricians.

We offer a variety of appointment types. Learn more or call 913-588-1227 to schedule now.

Medication-assisted treatments

  • Buprenorphine is a medication used for opioid addiction and is taken sublingually (under the tongue). Buprenorphine binds to opiate receptors and partially activates them, preventing withdrawal symptoms and helping with cravings. It is taken under the tongue as a tablet or a film. Patients should not use opiates while on this medication, as they will not be effective. The person taking buprenorphine feels normal, not high.

    For the initial phase of buprenorphine treatment, the induction phase, patients are seen for three consecutive appointments by the addictions psychiatrist. Persons accepted are usually started on buprenorphine during the first appointment. During those appointments, adjustments to the medication might be made to find a stable dose.

    Unlike methadone patients who are seen daily, those taking buprenorphine are seen weekly, biweekly or monthly and are given a written prescription to fill at the patient’s regular pharmacy. Buprenorphine maintenance appointments are similar to doctor or medication management appointments.

    We recommend counseling, community support groups, and individual or group therapies to learn strategies on managing emotions and behaviors distorted by addiction.

  • Methadone is a medication used for the treatment of opiate addiction. Its unique properties make it helpful in reducing drug cravings, avoiding withdrawal symptoms and blocking the “high” of continued opiate abuse.

    Candidates are first assessed to make sure this is the most appropriate level of care to meet their needs. An intake session with a counselor is followed with a medical examination by a physician. Persons accepted in the clinic are usually started on methadone that same day. Patients are required to attend the clinic daily to receive their methadone dose, with adjustments made to reach a stable, therapeutic level. A full biopsychosocial assessment is completed on all patients and is then used to develop an individualized treatment plan. Patients participate in regular counseling sessions, work on treatment plan assignments and begin the journey of recovery. Many patients become eligible for take-home doses over time, requiring fewer visits to the clinic. The goal is to resume a productive and healthy life without abuse of illicit or nonprescribed substances.

    Patients on the methadone track have regular, individual counseling sessions. Group counseling sessions are also available daily except for Sunday and Monday.

  • Sublocade® (buprenorphine extended-release) is an injectable medication used to treat moderate to severe opioid use disorder. It is found to be effective in preventing cravings and withdrawal symptoms while ending opioid use. This treatment is recommended for people who are stabilized on a steady maintenance dose of buprenorphine for 7 days. Our care team is one of the few in Kansas City to offer it.

    This state-of-the-art treatment will help patients improve their quality of life by decreasing their fear of judgment from those around them and freeing them from having to take medication multiple times a day.

    Some people may be familiar with taking buprenorphine as a daily tab or film placed under the tongue. The injection works as effectively but is taken only once a month. It is injected under the skin into the abdominal area. The medication is in a liquid form during injection and then changes into a solid form called a depot that continuously releases the medication during the month.

    People interested in learning more about medication-assisted treatment or who would like to be considered for the program may call or email us to complete an initial screening and schedule an appointment with the clinic directly. Some appointments and medications are covered by insurance, depending on individual policies. Please check with your insurance provider for more details.

    Patients and referring physicians, call 913-588-6493 or email us.

  • Vivitrol® (intramuscular naltrexone) is an injectable form of medication-assisted treatment. Administered once a month, it binds to receptors, blocking receipt of the addictive opioid. This treatment helps with cravings and may be initiated when a patient has been abstinent from opioids for at least 10 days.

    The health system accepts Vivitrol patients with either alcohol or opioid dependence. Vivitrol is usually effective in the body from 21-28 days.

    Per federal regulations, counseling is not a requirement for Vivitrol treatment; however, individual and group therapy is available if patients are interested.

A drug that can reverse an opioid overdose was recently approved by the FDA for sale over the counter. Naloxone, sold under the name Narcan, is a fast-acting nasal spray that acts as an antidote to an overdose. The manufacturer says the medication should be on store shelves by the end of summer 2023.

Speaker 1 (00:00):

The drug that can reverse an opioid overdose will soon be available over-the-counter. Naloxone sold under the name Narcan is a fast acting nasal spray, and this week the FDA approved it to be sold without a prescription. The company that makes it says it should be on the shelves by the end of this summer. Dr. Roopa Sethi joins us now. Dr. Sethi is an addiction psychiatrist here at the Health System. Good morning, how are you?

Dr. Roopa Sethi (00:26):

Doing well, thank you.

Speaker 1 (00:27):

Good to see you. Thank you for sharing your information regarding this. You help people with addiction problems on a daily basis. Help us understand really right now how bad this opioid crisis is here in our country.

Dr. Roopa Sethi (00:40):

So right now we are in an opioid epidemic. More than 100,000 people died of overdose in general in 2021 in United States. And about 70,000 or more of these deaths were synthetic opioids or opioids related. And most of this opioid was fentanyl. In Kansas itself, we had more than 600 overdose deaths, which kind of talks about how big of a crisis we are in right now.

Speaker 1 (01:08):

Yeah. Dr. Sethi, I feel like I've heard you call it the opioid epidemic for so long. We look forward to calling it something else at some point. But Narcan is already used as we know by police and paramedics. So how helpful will it be to make this available to the public?

Dr. Roopa Sethi (01:23):

It will be very helpful to get Narcan available to the public. Think of it like an antidote to an overdose. If somebody has an allergy, we give, we have them have an EpiPen. So yes, the police and the paramedics might have it, but then the patient also has it. So if you have an antidote to an overdose, which is naloxone that I have in my hand right now, it is good for everybody who needs it to have it with them.

Speaker 1 (01:50):

So who should carry it? Somebody who's struggling with addiction issues, family members, friends. Tell us about that.

Dr. Roopa Sethi (01:57):

So it's a very good question. Actually, anybody who's prescribed an opioid, even from a doctor should carry it. Anybody who's prescribed opioids along with benzodiazepines, and when I say benzodiazepines is something like alprazolam, clonazepam, Klonopin, all those medications because they have a chance of causing overdose as well, should carry it. And of course, somebody who's developed an addiction or developed an opioid use disorder and is in a treatment or wants to be in a treatment should also carry this medication.

Speaker 1 (02:29):

So Doc, some people dislike the whole idea of Narcan because they think it might encourage drug use. What is your reaction to that kind of thinking?

Dr. Roopa Sethi (02:40):

Addiction is a disease. At the end of the day, if we treat diabetes, if we treat allergies with an EpiPen, why not have an antidote of a medication which can prevent overdose and can save a life.

Speaker 1 (02:55):

Dr. Sethi, thank you so much for being with us this morning. We always appreciate your insight.

Dr. Roopa Sethi (02:58):

Thank you.

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Persons interested in learning more about medication-assisted treatment or who would like to be considered for the program may also call 913-588-6493 or email us to complete an initial screening and schedule an appointment with the clinic directly.

Some medications are covered by insurance, depending on individual policies. If inability to pay is a concern, grant funding may be available.

Physician referrals: 913-588-5862 or 877-588-5862.