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 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 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

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).


People that are addicted to or abuse opioids experience a euphoric response. Since these drugs also affect the brain regions involved in reward. Endorphin’s (pleasure/reward center) are subsequently released, providing the feeling of well being and gratification.

Opiates are designed to medically mange pain. Consequently there detrimental side effects, and risk associated with the use/abuse of opiates. Some of the short term effects may be feelings of euphoria, drowsiness, lethargy, respiratory depression, and constipation. Some of the long term risk associated with the use of opiates are: Dependence, nausea, vomiting, liver damage, and brain damage.

No need to be dismayed however, all is not lost. There are natural alternatives to create the feeling euphoria with all of the side effects and risk. The best thing about them is that they are free.

Here are a few ways to set off the dopamine party!

  • Eat some chocolate. That’s right…….. You have an excuse to eat chocolate, not only because it taste so wonderful, but it can be good for you. By releasing those endorphins it can make you HAPPY!!!
  • Drink some Green Tea. Be sure that it is green, as the other teas tend to have a calming agent that will cause relaxation. (Have you ever tried to be at a party and relax at the same time?)
  • GET MOVING! Moving increases production of new brain cells, slows down brain cell aging, and improves the flow of nutrients to the brain. New brain cells, new increased levels of dopamine. (TURN DOWN FOR WHAT?)
  • Listen to some music Andy Grammer telling his Honey he is good just might be what you need to get you moving and to cash in on those endorphin’s (Wink)
  • Take on a new challenge. Be creative don’t just exercise your body, but also your brain it has the same effect. (Smart is the new high.)

The party does not stop with these few suggestions. Invest some time exploring and researching (Which also releases dopamine) you may find that what you were seeking can be found without risk, or compromise.

Providing Answers to the Opioid Epidemic

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 over doses 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