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Providing Answers to the Opioid Epidemic

young woman on sofa feeling pain

With Heroin and Opiate abuse aggressively sweeping the nation, the effects are devastating. Eighty-one people die each day in the United States from an opioid overdose and 2.2 million Americans struggle with an addiction to opioids, such as heroin or pain pills.  With drug overdoses now leading the cause of accidental deaths, it is clear this epidemic does not discriminate.  

What are Opioids/Opiates?

Opiates cover a large variety of substances, some legal like pain pills and others illegal such as opium and heroin. When discussing pain pills like Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet to name a few, those substances are often referred to as “opioids”. When referring to drugs naturally derived from active narcotic components of the opium poppy like heroin and opium they are referred to as “opiates”. These terms have become interchangeable.

Opiates are medications that are prescribed to relieve pain; they reduce the pain signals reaching the brain. Opiates target the brain’s reward system and floods the brain with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in sectors of the brain that regulate movement, cognition, emotion, motivation and feelings of pleasure. There are certain life-sustaining activities that the brain wants to make sure people repeat in life, in order to do so when a person performs one of those activities the brain associates those activities with pleasure or a reward like the release of dopamine. Because drugs of abuse stimulate those same areas it teaches the person to abuse drugs

Heroin is an opioid drug synthesized from morphine. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder. Heroin can be inhaled by sniffing or snorting, smoked or injected. All three ways of consumption deliver the drug to the brain very rapidly. When Heroin enters the brain it is converted back to morphine and binds to molecules on cells known as opioid receptors. These receptors are throughout the brain and body and are involved in the perception of pain and in reward.

With continued use of Opiates/Opioids tolerance is built and dependence occurs. 

What can be done?

 At this time, MAT is the industry standard for treating opioid addiction, as recommended by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  It offers the best possible outcome for people struggling to stop illicit opioid use.  Medication assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications combined with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a ‘whole patient’ approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. Research indicates that a combination of medication and behavioral therapies can successfully treat substance use disorders, and for some people struggling with addiction, MAT can help sustain recovery.

Who is Intensive Treatment Systems?

Intensive Treatment Systems (I.T.S) is a CARF accredited, outpatient substance abuse treatment program providing Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) to patients who are affected by Opioid Use Disorder, or Opioid Addiction. The primary treatment objective of I.T.S is to help patients free themselves from the dysfunctional pattern of opioid abuse through the use of medications such as Methadone as well as counseling and case management services.

Ultimately through the use of medication, counseling, and case management services, it is our goal to guide patients toward a drug-free lifestyle with improved personal and vocational functioning. Medication services are provided and closely monitored by qualified medical staff, who emphasize safety and a comprehensive approach to the patient’s treatment. Counseling, case management services and groups are provided by addictions professionals who utilize Motivational Interviewing and other evidenced based practices to ensure exceptional recovery-oriented and patient centered treatment.

I.T.S has been serving patients in the Phoenix area for more than 20 years and has developed a program that is dedicated to high quality patient care and is focused on comprehensive recovery.  I.T.S has three clinics in the Phoenix area, offering methadone and counseling services at all locations.  Each patient’s care is also closely monitored by a Physician Assistant to ensure therapeutic dosing and to prevent over medication.  Our Medical Director is Board Certified in Addiction Medicine and directs the program to abide by all federal and state guidelines and to ensure safety for all patients served. 

I.T.S looks forward to serving any patients in need of MAT.  Currently we accept AHCCCS and private pay as forms of payment.  In addition, we utilize the Substance Abuse Block Grant to provide treatment to patients who are unable to pay and who do not have AHCCCS. We provide priority treatment to pregnant women and work closely with OBGYN doctors to ensure the most effective care for pregnant women addicted to opioids. 

I.T.S is dedicated to providing quality care to all patients. To ensure the best care for every patient, I.T.S believes in the importance of strong community ties and the power of the community working together to provide as many services and resources to each and every patient. I.T.S is aware that together is the only way to find a solution to this devastating epidemic.

For more information on Intensive Treatment Systems, please visit

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