Frequently Asked Questions
The confidentiality of alcohol and drug dependence patient records maintained by Alpha Healing Center are protected by federal and state law and regulations. Generally, the program may not say to a person outside the program that a patient attends the practice/program, or disclose any information identifying a patient as being alcohol or drug dependent unless:
- The patient consents in writing
- The disclosure is allowed by a court order
- The disclosure is made to medical personnel in a medical emergency or to qualified personnel for research, audit, or practice/program evaluation.
- The disclosure is made to the insurance provider for reimbursement purposes
- Violation of the federal law and regulations by a practice/program is a crime. Suspected violations may be reported to appropriate authorities in accordance with federal regulations.
Federal law and regulations do not protect any information about a crime committed by a patient either at the practice/program or against any person who works for the practice/program or about any threat to commit such a crime. Federal laws and regulations do not protect any information about suspected child abuse or neglect from being reported under state law to appropriate state or local authorities.
The Drug Abuse Treatment Act of 2000 (DATA-2000) was written to allow for a variety of new drugs to be used in an office based setting by certified physicians. One aspect of this Act is the limitation of 30-100 patients per physician. In 2002 Suboxone®/Subutex® became the first drugs that physicians could use and as of now buprenorphine preparations are still the only approved medications. Without knowing the abuse potential or other social impact of these yet to be discovered drugs for addiction safeguards were built in the law. Many patients and physicians have complained that the law is too restrictive because almost every physician can prescribe potentially addictive medication, but once a patient becomes addicted, physicians are restricted on how many they can treat for addiction.
The law has been amended twice. The first in August 2005 allowed every certified doctor to prescribe to up to 30 patients regardless of whether they are in a group or sole practice. The second amendment was signed into law 12/29/2006 and allowed physicians who have had their DATA-2000 certification for more than one year the option of increasing their maximum to 100 patients. This change had a great impact on the number of patients that could get treatment.
Precipitated withdrawal can occur when an antagonist (or partial antagonist, such as buprenorphine) is administered to a patient dependent on full agonist opioids (e.g. Oxycontin®, methadone, heroin). Due to buprenorphine’s high affinity but low intrinsic activity at the mu receptor, the partial antagonist displaces agonist opioids from the mu receptors, without activating the receptor to an equivalent degree, resulting in a net decrease in agonist effect, thus precipitating a withdrawal syndrome.
It is a common misconception that the naloxone in suboxone® initiates precipitated withdrawal. This is false. The naloxone can only initiate precipitated withdrawal if injected into a person tolerant to opioids. Taken sublingually the Naloxone has virtually no effect.
How to avoid precipitated withdrawal: The best way to avoid this condition is through patient education. The patient should be informed, prior to the induction appointment, of discontinuing opioid use and to administer buprenorphine when withdrawal symptoms are present.
How to Treat Precipitated Withdrawal: If the patient experiences precipitated withdrawal, administer additional 2mg. to 4 mg. doses of buprenorphine hourly, until symptoms dissipate.
No– With successful buprenorphine detoxification and counseling the patient can put the addictive behavior in remission. At Alpha Healing Center, buprenorphine is only used short-term (7 -28 days) for withdrawal. The dose of buprenorphine is reduced over time and eventually discontinued during this period. Physical dependence is unlikely to be established during this short term use of buprenorphine.
You will still be able to be treated for pain with elective dental or surgical procedures. Your doctors should speak with each other about the plan. They will likely stop your buprenorphine medication, at least 36 hours before the procedure, and then when you are ready to go back on buprenorphine you will need to be re-induced, which means stopping your pain medicine, experiencing mild withdrawal (for a very short time) and restarting your buprenorphine.
It is recommended to take the first day of treatment off. Some are able to work even on Day One. Certainly after Day One, you should be able to work with greater attentiveness and clarity than before starting treatment. The transition from addictive substance to buprenorphine is usually painless and most patients experience no adverse physical effects. In fact most say that they feel normal again, like they were never on drugs at all.
We never know what could happen. What if there is an emergency and you need to be treated for pain? Worse yet what if you are unconscious? A potential problem is you could be unnecessarily under-treated for pain. Since many doctors out there are still unfamiliar with buprenorphine, Alpha Healing Center will provide you with a buprenorphine card that lists the name and phone number of the prescribing doctor and a patient information brochure. Keep this in a wallet or folder just in case of emergency. Hopefully it will never be needed.
Physical connections create pathways in the brain that can be altered when we learn something new. These changes to the brain can be seen with medical imagery. Addiction is a learned behavior that changes the brain as well. The brain becomes conditioned to want the substance. Through counseling and other behavioral modification we can actually, in some cases, change the brain physically. By changing our environment, starting a new job, new hobbies and friends, all will alter our brain in some way. It is possible to undo some of the changes that occurred while addicted. Therapy will recondition the brain closer to pre-addiction status. This will better prepare the patient for a time when they may no longer require medication.
Medication alone can reduce cravings and withdrawal, but recovering from an addictive disorder requires a rewiring of the brain and medication alone is not enough. Attention to eliminating things in life that cause stress or depression will help minimize the chance of relapse. Disassociating with friends who are in active addiction can be difficult but very necessary. An experienced counselor/therapist will be able to teach other techniques that will further help undo some of the brain changes and conditioned learning that occurred while becoming and remaining addicted.
Even though it is more expensive than an outpatient addiction treatment, it is very crucial to remember that the cost should not be the deciding factor in making a decision about which rehab is best suitable for addiction treatment of Marijuana. It is important to consider both the efficiency of the program and the qualifications of the counselors. That being said, The Alpha Healing Center is honored to offer its first class treatment at just the fraction of the cost of similar or lesser rehab facilities compared to Western countries.