Thursday, August 04, 2005

Help for the Addicted

Copyright Leslie Jones McCloud 2005

An act of defiance 20 years ago saved Juan Deas from a life of misery. He diagnosed
himself as an alcoholic at the age of 14.
"I felt early on I would be an active alcoholic for the rest of my life," he said.
Eventually, his family slipped away and a chance after high school to attend college.
He methodically recounted his history of being addicted, as if he was discussing his own
case history with colleges at a staff meeting.
He remembered how many times he went to dry out at a men's mission before being confronted by a counselor for fighting, then getting put out of the program. He hit a wall with drinking at his next treatment program where his problems continued.
"She was screaming at me. The director told me I would never amount to anything," he said.
He entered a 30-day program to prove her wrong.
Now at the age of 46, he is Program Director at Discovery House in Pennsylvania and has
been counseling others on the jagged path of addiction for 16 years. He has earned a
certification in addictions counseling and a master's degree in health science. Deas was on
hand Wednesday for an open house at the local Discovery House located on Cleveland Street.
Richard Heidenreich, the program director at that location, said Discovery House is a
national methadone maintenance treatment program for those who are addicted to
opiates. They have 13 clinics in five states.
He said that their clients are people who are addicted to painkillers like oxycodone HCl
controlled-release (Oxycontin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), codeine (Tylenol-3), heroin, morphine
or any other opiate. They are one of the few outpatient clinics who enroll teenage
"We offer methadone maintenance and counseling services. For those persons in the program
that need to be stepped down off of methadone gradually, we offer medically supervised
withdrawal," he said.
Mark Besden, a Discovery House program director in Hatboro, Penn., said Oxycontin is the
drug most patients use because it is more powerful than Vicodin.
"Doctors don't like to give pain medication to methadone users," Robin Schulte, a LPN at
the local Discovery House said, and it becomes an issue in pain management.
Methadone, like the drugs it combats, is an opiate too and the clinics often carry a bad
image because of it.
"People are so ashamed to say they come to a clinic," Schulte said.
She said county police officers sit in the parking lot on Cleveland Street and GRIT
officers use the huge space as a staging area. It houses commercial property where a beauty
shop, barber shop, tax accountant and a flea market call home.
Discovery House patients can be detoxed off of illegal drugs in about 30 days. The
average length of time on methadone varies from 12 to 18 months.
Discovery House plans to offer in the next year, buprenorphine (Suboxone) treatment where
patients would come to clinic less frequently.
Including Heidenreich, there are three counselors who provide services to 120 patients for
$63 per week who live in the surrounding areas. The clinic can comfortable service 350.
There weren't any who signed up for services Wednesday during the open house. He hopes that
will change in the coming days.
"They're lives are out-of-control because of usage. We are starting to see more and more
teens as heroin addiction takes off. The family dynamics are askew or there might be a
predisposition to use. The key element is the environment at home, he said.

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