Genoa Pharmacy opens at ITS West

We are excited to announce that Genoa Pharmacy has opened at our ITS West location. Our patients are able to have prescriptions called into the Pharmacy and can pick them up when attending the clinic or you can opt for home delivery. The prescription service is also available to the household members of our patients.

If you are unable to collect your prescriptions and prefer to have home delivery, this can be arranged for all ITS patients regardless of the clinic location.

Ask your doctor to send the prescription to ITS -West Clinic at 4136 N 75th Ave., #116, Phoenix AZ 85033, let the Pharmacy know if you would like a home delivery and they will coordinate this with you. If you have any questions you can contact the Pharmacy staff directly; Jeremy Hillman (Site Manager/Pharmacist) or Megan Ido (Technician).    For those picking up prescriptions the pharmacy hours are Monday through Friday 8:30am to 5:00pm with lunch from 12-12:30.

Community Update – All Locations

As the COVID-19 Pandemic continues to impact in AZ, Intensive Treatment Systems is still following all CDC and AZDHS recommendations to ensure the safety of our patients and visitors to our clinics. We would like to say ‘Thank you for being so supportive of us during this difficult time for so many’. Unfortunately, we are still unable to resume community meetings onsite. Many businesses and organizations are moving to virtual platforms to continue meeting and keep updated with community news and events.

Our Community Outreach Director – Carol Golden is available to attend any virtual meetings you may have planned. If you would like her to attend please email carolgolden@itsofaz.com or you can call her directly on 623-297-2598. We will continue to keep you updated with any changes as they happen.

New Clinic Update – MESA

It is really important for Intensive Treatment Systems (ITS) to keep our communities updated on the changes that are happening within our organization. Even though the COVID-19 Pandemic has caused such havoc and impacted so many, not only in AZ but across the whole of the US we have been working diligently to get our new location in Mesa ready. Because the local community meeting rooms are not currently open for use, we recently held a community meeting at the clinic location. We are in the final stages of getting everything in place to be able to open and offer an amazing package of treatment and services to the Mesa community.

Carol Golden – our Community Outreach Director is actively outreaching local organizations, community groups and providers to share information about our program and treatment options. If you would like to have a tour of the facility or have any questions. Please reach out to Carol by email carolgolden@itsofaz.com or by phone 623-297-2598 or you can call our 24 hour helpline number and we will respond as quickly as possible.

How we can be triggers

Did you realize – At times family can be the biggest triggers for those who are struggling with a Substance Use Disorder.

For a loved one in recovery, it’s important to be understanding not judgmental.  It takes courage to disclose addiction to someone they love or admire. Often fear losing your trust and respect, their self confidence will be at its lowest point. Take the time to recognize, you have the opportunity to make a huge impact, it’s not the time for confrontation.

When someone identifies as an ‘addict’ typically they are deemed as untrustworthy, with no ethics. Reaching the lowest point in their lives, rejected by friends and family. This often leads them further into addiction.

Finally, they open up and are honest about their addiction. It’s crucial to be supportive, they need encouragement now more than ever.  Try not to talk negatively or accusingly as this may trigger feelings of guilt and shame. Being judged by someone you love and respect can cause additional mental health issues, it can make it more difficult to move forward honestly and transparently.  

Through life we all have obstacles to overcome Addiction unfortunately has a stigma that causes people to be treated differently. Society can be inhumane, critical and dismissive. Regardless of the addiction, whether drugs or alcohol or a combination of both – support and understanding are essential.

People, places and things can be triggers, learning what the individual triggers are, how to encourage and offer guidance will help enormously.  It will foster a greater understanding and together you can make the changes needed in rebuilding your lives. 

You will have questions and doubts, about each other and the treatment processes. Our team of professionals at Intensive Treatment Systems (ITS) are available to support you and your family through this journey and the treatment options available. 
Call 1-855-245-6350 anytime 24-hours a day /7-days a week


Opioid Addiction and How the Brain Responds

Opioid addiction is much deeper than what we see from the outside. It involves how the drug changes the structure and function of the brain that makes people continue to use it, leading to the addiction.

Dr. Sol Snyder first studied the effects of opioids in the 1970s at John Hopkins University. His team discovered opioid receptors in the brain. This discovery helped them better understand why opioid users feel euphoric, less pain, and become physically and psychologically dependent.

How the Brain Responds to Opioids

Opioid addiction directly affects the brain’s receptors in much of the same way other enjoyable activities do, such as sex or eating. When we engage in pleasurable activities, our brain releases neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters attach to mu receptors, which activate the release of chemicals. These chemicals are what cause us to enjoy what we are doing and reduce the sensation of pain.

When introduced into the body, enzymes in the brain convert them into morphine. It’s the morphine that attaches and activates opioid receptors, releasing the neurotransmitter dopamine. The nervous system uses dopamine to send messages between nerve cells. It also plays a significant role in how we feel pleasure. The more dopamine there is, the more pleasure we feel.

The brain is highly adaptable. After regular use of opioids and the increased dopamine release, the brain begins to alter its functioning to accommodate the increase in dopamine. The brain no longer reacts as quickly and as powerfully to the drugs, which means lower feelings of pleasure and increased pain sensitivity. The only way to bring back the euphoria and higher pain thresholds is to introduce a higher dose of the drug.

Opioid addiction can occur quickly and easily, depending on how fast it adapts to the increased dopamine levels. Once the brain adapts to those higher levels, the only way to avoid feeling the withdrawal effects is to continue the opioid drug dosage that produces higher dopamine levels. 

Long Term Effects on the Brain

Using opioids for many years can lead to permanent changes to the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal lobe of the brain. These two areas of the brain are essential in:

  • Memory
  • Decision-making
  • Thought processes
  • Social behavior
  • Reasoning skills
  • Emotional processes
  • Behavior control

Since opioid addiction can lead to those permanent changes, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. Opioid addiction is not a lifelong sentence. Treatment can help the brain withdraw from the elevated levels of dopamine and become accustomed to what the brain naturally produces. Recovery helps with the mental and emotional dependency of the drug to prevent relapse.

Intensive Treatment Systems offers Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), integrated care, counseling, peer support, and much more to those who struggle with opioid and alcohol addiction. We have many clinics conveniently located in and around the Phoenix area. Call us 24/7 at 623-247-1234 for additional information on how we can help you break free from opioid addiction.

William Fox DNP, AGNP-C

HOW ITS IS RESPONDING TO THE CRISIS

The Covid-19 crisis paired with the already opiate epidemic has had an impact on individuals struggling with addiction and mental health. According to the National Institute of Health, because of the effect that Covid-19 has on the respiratory and pulmonary health it leads the potential to become a bigger threat to those who struggle with opiate use disorder.  Individuals struggling with substance use disorder are also more likely to experience homelessness, lack of health care, and barriers when it comes to transportation. ITS takes pride in being able to bridge those barriers to allow individuals the best possible care.

At ITS we are doing everything possible to ensure patient safety while continuing to give top notch patient care. ITS understands the barriers that Covid-19 has created for individuals who are engaged in MAT clinics, specifically the ones taking methadone. ITS does not only offer medication assistance treatment but also offers integrated care. We understand how difficult it is to see a provider during this pandemic. ITS strives on eliminating all barriers to make sure sobriety is in reach. At all ITS locations there is mask mandate, frequent sanitization, and social distancing guidelines in place. Like all other MAT clinics, ITS is also engaging in the Covid-19 take homes for what SAMSHA considers “stable” patients.

At ITS, we take the crisis very serious, but also understand the impact it has had on mental health.  Individuals may experience a surge in stress during this pandemic which can lead to many things including increased drug use. According to the CDC, there has been a surge in individuals who are reporting fear and anxiety to the pandemic. ITS is offering both in person care and telemedicine to ensure that individuals are both physically safe and mentally safe.

Intensive Treatment System offers same day appointments, same day transportation, and integrated care. Struggling with substance abuse can be exhausting, sometimes causing one to feel depressed and alone, but ITS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to offer services and help individuals gain a sense of purpose.

Call ITS to speak to someone today for a better tomorrow, 1-855-245-6350.

Designer Drugs: A flashy name for a knockoff product.

The name Designer Drugs, sounds prestigious and exclusive like GUCCI or PRADA, however the reality is nowhere near as glamorous. Designer drugs are created in secret laboratories to mimic the pharmacological effects of the original drug, while avoiding the classification of illegal. Almost comparable to a knock off PRADA bag, they may look similar to the real thing, but the workmanship is poor with the stitching all wrong and the label is upside down. Like a knockoff purse designer drugs have poor workmanship and absolutely no quality control. These drugs are made from a variety of products, that when separate aren’t that harmful and sometimes used daily. However when mixed together become a deadly cocktail that is almost like playing Russian roulette when taking them. Because these drugs are made with a variety of ingredients they don’t always come out the same therefore the reaction and high aren’t always the same. This can often be deadly for someone who gets a batch of MDMA or Methamphetamine, to name a few common designer drugs, that causes them a different reaction then a previous doses. Designer drugs have ever changing ingredients and the dangers that come with them are constantly being underestimated. Which is why it is so important that awareness is brought to our community. While buying a PRADA knockoff when expecting the real deal is a giant let down, buying a designer “knockoff” drug may have a more grand and finite consequence.

Methadone: What you think you know and really don’t.

Methadone has been around for decades and has been used for Heroin addiction since the 1960’s. Yet so many people still are unaware of Methadone and its effects. 

Some people hear Methadone and think it’s made from Meth. Others believe it’s a legal way to get high, it rots your bones and is addictive. The amount of misconceptions and negative stigmas that follow Methadone are endless.

Methadone is a long-acting opioid medication used to treat addiction to heroin and certain prescription pills. Methadone helps to normalize the body’s neurological system which has been impaired by the use of heroin or the misuse of other opioids. Methadone reduces or eliminates cravings for opioid drugs and blocks the effects of other opioids. Methadone is no means a cure for opioid/heroin addiction. It’s an opportunity for someone struggling with addiction/dependence to regain their life and receive treatment.

If someone has high blood pressure they see a doctor and in most cases are prescribed a medication in which they take daily. That medication helps eliminate symptoms and helps the patient to get on with a “normal” and healthy life. This is similar to a patient struggling with heroin addiction. They see a doctor and are prescribed a medication, Methadone. They take their medication daily and it helps eliminate symptoms of withdrawals and cravings. It allows the patient to get past their addiction/dependence and move on with a healthier lifestyle. 

The sooner we make an effort as a society to understand and accept Methadone as an effective treatment, the sooner heroin/opiate addicts can stop stigma about their choice of treatment and focus on the treatment and recovery process.

Mental Illness and Substance Use: Understanding the Connection

Many patients at Intensive Treatment Systems (ITS) enter treatment expecting to feel better after stopping their illicit opiate use, however, what they sometimes experience is an increase in depression and anxiety once they have stopped using heroin or pain pills and are stabilized on methadone. What is the reason for this seeming worsening of a patient’s mental health condition once in treatment? The answer lies in the understanding that drug use disorders often co-occur with mental health issues. Many patients affected with substance use disorder are unaware of the mental health issues they may be experiencing. Their drug use may be masking and “treating” symptoms of depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, or schizophrenia. This is what is commonly referred to as “self-medicating.”

It is important for patients to understand this concept of self-medicating in order to understand some of the underlying reasons for drug use, as many people may switch to using additional substances once they have stopped using opiates, in an effort to effect the underlying symptoms of depression, anxiety, mania, or psychosis. In addition, many people use substances to treat psychosocial issues such as loneliness, boredom, stress, anger, grief, which are also important to identify and address in an effective way. Vicky Dramaretska, P.A.-C. at ITS also notes that many patients she sees who experience mental health issues have had history of neglect, abuse (physical and psychological), family history of psychiatric disorder, and family history of substance use which affect a patient’s development of mental health issues. ITS recommends that patients work with their counselors in the program to identify self-medicating patterns, to develop appropriate coping skills for dealing with psychosocial stressors, and to obtain referral for an outside mental health specialist to address any trauma or family history issues that may currently be impacting the patient.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) indicates that brain chemistry plays an important role in the development of both mental illness and substance use disorders. According to NIDA, “Some areas of the brain are affected by both drug use disorders and other mental illnesses. For example, the circuits in the brain that use the neurotransmitter dopamine–a chemical that carries messages from one neuron to another– are typically affected by addictive substances and may also be involved in depression, schizophrenia, and other psychiatric disorders.

Indeed, some antidepressants and essentially all antipsychotic medications directly target the regulation of dopamine in this system, whereas others may have indirect effects. Importantly, dopamine pathways have also been implicated in the way in which stress can increase vulnerability to drug addiction. Stress is also a known risk factor for a range of mental disorders and therefore provides one likely common neurobiological link between the disease processes of addiction and those of other mental disorders.” Understanding this connection between brain chemistry and mental health issues and substance use disorders is essential in identifying the most effective treatment for both. If you are experiencing any mental health symptoms, please consult with your counselor who can guide you to the appropriate resource for effective treatment. ITS recommends psychiatric evaluation for any patient who is being affected by co-occurring issues.

In addition to consulting with your counselor, Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care Customer Service, 1-800- 564-5465, can provide direct referral for mental health services.

Recovery and Diet: How the two go hand in hand.

Addiction takes a major toll on a person’s body. It often leads to irregular eating habits and poor nutrition. Nutrients, vitamins and minerals provide the body with the ability to function properly and repair itself. Nutrients provide the body with energy, help to strengthen the immune system and help the body with overall better health. This is incredibly important while in recovery for substance abuse. Feeling better and being healthy enables a person to focus on the recovery process.

Some important guidelines to remember.

  • Stick to regular mealtimes
  • Eat foods that are low in fat
  • Get more protein, complex carbohydrates, and dietary fiber
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements may be helpful during recovery (this may include B-complex, zinc, and vitamins A and C)
  • Stay away from processed sugar
  • Less caffeine

Foods that will help during recovery

  • Leafy Greens: Green leafy plants are good for the digestive tract. They can help with digestive problems due to nausea and diarrhea throughout the withdrawal process. (Kale, Spinach, Barley and other green vegetables).
  • Fruit: High in vitamins. Citrus is helpful with flushing toxins out of the body. (Oranges, lemons and limes. All can be placed in water)
  • Cranberries & Cherries: The antioxidants found in green tea can help increase liver function.
  • Garlic: Flushes out toxins and stimulates liver function
  • Nuts and Seed: Provide clean protein and help detox the body.
  • Omega 3 oils: Help clean the body and organs. Help lubricate the intestinal wall and keep it healthy. (Coconut, hemp, and extra virgin olive oil).