Just Add HOPE

Photography by Wes Battoclette

Many people who suffer from substance use disorders describe the way they feel as hopeless. They don’t see an end to their pain. They think that no matter what they do, they won’t be able to quit, to get a fresh start or to move on.

But hope – along with state-of-the-science diagnostics and treatment services – is what the Lindner Center of HOPE is providing those suffering from addiction and substance use disorders with its new HOPE Center North.

For seven years, the Lindner Center of HOPE has addressed our community’s mental health needs on its main campus – a comprehensive mental health center – on Old Western Row Road. The new HOPE Center North, on State Route 42, focuses solely on expanded comprehensive outpatient addiction treatment services.

While the Center treats patients who suffer from substance use disorders, including alcohol and tobacco, generally, it also aims to help combat suffering from opioid use disorder – with prescription opioid overdose now resulting in more deaths than automobile accidents in the United States each year.

“The Lindner Center has stepped up and really tried to develop and expand addiction treatment services in the area,” says John Mallery, LISW, supervisor of HOPE Center North with more than 27 years of experience in the addictions field including behavioral health administration. “We focus not only on medication-assisted treatment but also psychological treatment and behavioral interventions. We offer counseling, support groups, work placement; we meet the person where he or she is and treat the whole person.”

Meeting the person where he or she is might seem like a given, but there is stigma when it comes to substance use disorders. The terms “addict” and “addiction” are emotionally charged terms that don’t accurately describe what occurs clinically, and rather perpetuate stigma and misunderstanding.

Many believe that those suffering from abuse must be “ready” to walk away before a treatment plan will help.

But substance abuse disorders are like other chronic medical conditions, says Dr. Clifford Cabansag, an addiction medicine physician, certified tobacco treatment specialist and adjunct assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. “You hear people say, ‘people with substance abuse disorders are non-compliant, they don’t keep up with treatment or medication,’ but people with Diabetes type one have a compliance rate only slightly better than those with substance use disorders,” he adds. “Those with substance use disorders have a compliance rate that is actually slightly higher than those with asthma or people with hypertension. If someone misses a medical treatment, we don’t kick them out or refuse to treat them. We continue to see them and encourage them to improve their health.”

He explains that substance use disorders are the only disorders in which society expects patients to treat themselves and be successful at that treatment. “We don’t do that with any other disease. We don’t say – show us you’re serious, come back when your blood pressure is better controlled and then we’ll talk about treatment. We are essentially saying, ‘your disease is somehow inherently different than others.’ For all the talk about willpower or moral failure, this disease is misunderstood. And we need to normalize the medical nature of these conditions.”

HOPE Center North is working to remove the stigma and focus on allowing patients to achieve some stability and begin rebuilding their lives, healthy and free of illicit substances. 

On a case by case basis, physicians use medications (Medication Assisted Treatment) and behavioral interventions to treat tobacco, alcohol and opioid use disorders. When medications are appropriate, they are part of an overall multi-modal treatment that also includes individual and group therapies and counseling, as well as community support groups.

In the case of opioid use disorder, depending on individualized treatment plans and the severity of the case, HOPE Center North may alternatively direct Opioid Replacement Therapy, using methadone, buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) or naltrexone to help reduce the withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Opioid Replacement Treatment has proven to be effective in improving the health and living condition of people experiencing opiate use disorders, including mortality reduction and overall society costs, such as the economic loss from drug-related crime and
healthcare costs.

Evidence-based research also shows a reduction in DUIs and alcohol-related deaths and car accidents when a patient receives psychological and medication-based treatment of alcohol use disorder.

The work the HOPE Center North is doing not only improves patients’ lives, but also their family members’ lives, the community around them and the economy.

“The efficacy of medication assisted treatment is very well established,” says Cabansag. “Some people might think you’re just trading one drug for another, but when used properly and as directed, there is no euphoria. When someone comes in for treatment and receives medication, their cognitive functioning is only improved and more clear. They are not experiencing the very severe withdrawal symptoms they would feel if left untreated. Medication is but a small part of an overall treatment; medications are not magic bullets. They are useful for treating the withdrawal symptoms enough so that now the patient is in a better place to make a logical, purposeful decision as opposed to a desperate attempt to relieve opioid withdrawal. It helps to put the patient in a place where they can go about doing the work of recovery. It is very hard, even with medication. The medication contributes five, maybe 10 percent to a patient’s treatment. The rest is the patient doing the work. That’s why multifaceted treatment is most effective.”

Dr. Jolomi Ikomi, MD, staff psychiatrist for the Lindner Center of HOPE, adjunct assistant clinical professor of psychiatry University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and medical director for HOPE Center North, says this multi-faceted approach is something that sets the Center apart.

“We’re excited because a lot of treatment facilities might have the medication piece, but there’s a deficiency with counseling,” he says. “We are able to provide both. The best outcome comes with counseling and medication together. Coming here is an all-inclusive service. You’ll get medication if you need it, and you’re going to get counseling. Fifty to 60 percent of people who have an addiction disorder also suffer from a form of mental illness and we are able to provide treatment for both. Whether a patient suffers from depression, psychosis (or any other disorder), we are able to help. Not many treatment centers have an addiction psychiatrist on-staff, but we offer that here, as well as experienced therapists trained in various psychotherapeutic modalities and are able to address the individual as a whole in all aspects of his or her life.”

The level of expertise and training at HOPE Center North is world-class. Both Ikomi and Cabansag are fellowship trained, in addition to psychiatry and addiction medicine respectively. 

Though the HOPE Center North has only been open a short time, community response is already fantastic. 

“The conversations I’ve had with the professional community, medical community and with individuals has shown a great level of interest in what we are doing here,” says Mallery. “We want to be of service. We want folks to come in who need help, and we will help them determine what level of care is appropriate. We don’t want to create a lot of obstacles. When someone comes in, we will help them get to the appropriate place and perform a biopsychosocial assessment – in other words, assess the whole person and determine what we can do to help.”

Mallery also invites community groups and individuals that want to learn more about HOPE Center North or to take a tour of the new facility to get in touch. 

For more information about how the Lindner Center of HOPE and HOPE Center North outpatient services can help you or your loved one, visit
www.lindnercenterofhope.org or call 513.536.0050.