The Wright Center Provides Resources to Treating Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Members News

Here in Northeast Pennsylvania, we continue to make notable strides in our fight against the ravages of drug and alcohol addiction. But it’s always good to have helpful awareness campaigns like National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, which will take place March 18-24 this year.

The annual observance was started in 2010 by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which then joined forces with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in 2016. Every year, the week brings together scientists, students, educators, health care providers, and community partners to help advance the science and address youth drug and alcohol use in communities throughout the country.

I’m all for anything that provides young people – and people of all ages, really – with useful information about the dangers of addiction. In 2022, 110,000 people nationwide lost their lives due to opiate overdoses – with 70% of that total caused by fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Pennsylvania, 5,146 deaths were attributed to overdose. The overdose death rates in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties, for example, were higher than the state average, with fentanyl contributing to death in 78% of all fatal overdoses statewide, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

It’s important for people to know about all the resources available here in the region so our communities and society can aggressively address addiction – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually.

The Wright Center is among the local leaders in addiction and recovery services, thanks to our status as a Pennsylvania-designated Opioid Use Disorder Center of Excellence. Patients qualify for Center of Excellence care if they have an opioid use disorder, have co-occurring behavioral/substance abuse and physical health conditions, require assistance navigating the health care system, and need guidance to stay engaged in treatment as a means of avoiding relapse.

Our model views addiction as a lifelong disease that requires a long-term commitment to recovery. Unlike a traditional inpatient rehabilitation facility, we employ an outpatient services model that provides patients first-rate care while allowing them to attend to other life priorities.

It’s a “whole patient” philosophy centered around medication-assisted treatment, or MAT. The concept combines medical and social support, using medication to block the receptors in the brain that modern opiates are built to connect to, in the process eliminating the urges that those in recovery face.

Our patients are also connected to a dedicated team of recovery and behavioral health specialists, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, certified recovery specialists, and medical providers who collaborate closely to counsel and support those with a variety of substance use disorders – opioids, alcohol, cocaine, and other addictive drugs and substances. We also help patients find stable housing, navigate insurance barriers, and repair family and community relationships.

Meanwhile, The Wright Center is among the community partners for the Healthy MOMS (Maternal Opiate Medical Support) initiative, which since 2018 has helped pregnant women and new mothers overcome addiction and embrace a life in recovery. Participants are offered blanket services that include MAT and addiction services, counseling, whole-person primary health services, OB-GYN care, parenting tips, legal advice, and other forms of support.

Based on the available evidence, mothers who join Healthy MOMS and participate in recovery services well before their delivery dates are less likely to give birth to babies who experience neonatal abstinence syndrome or NAS, a potentially painful and costly medical condition caused when a newborn withdraws from opioids or other drugs that the baby had been exposed to in the womb. Many of our moms have said the program has given them a stronger sense of optimism and increased self-confidence. Several others have noted that it led them to want to obtain their GED and further pursue their education.

We’re very proud to be at the forefront of local drug and alcohol treatment services, and we’ll continue to work hard to ensure our patients are treated with dignity and compassion so they can ultimately lead happy, healthy lives. Together, we can fix our heads and our hearts.

William Dempsey, M.D., is deputy chief medical officer for The Wright Center for Community Health. As a board-certified family medicine physician, he provides comprehensive whole-person primary health services. Dr. Dempsey is also medication-assisted treatment-waivered to treat substance use disorder.