Cascade Community Healthcare continues offering Medication-Assisted Treatment for those recovering from substance use

May 15—Cascade Community Healthcare continues efforts to bring Medicated Assisted Treatment (MAT) services to those throughout Lewis County who are struggling with addiction.

The treatment reduces a patient's craving for a substance and withdrawal symptoms through medication while they receive substance use disorder (SUD) behavioral therapy services, which can create a holistic approach.

On Monday, Cascade Community Healthcare nurse practitioner Ezra Foss updated the Board of Health on these efforts.

"I like to always let people know that there is hope out there. It can be done," Foss said. "It's just a slow process of getting everything reset and in order, and helping them get to that point."

According to Foss, Cascade primarily prescribed Suboxone, Sublocade and Buprenorphine, which he said blocks receptors in the brain.

The medications, he said, also help prevent a user from getting high should they relapse. Suboxone can either be used short-term or long-term and can help with withdrawals, addictions and cravings.

Cascade also prescribes Vivitrol, Naltrexone and Naloxone, which act similarly, but limit the pleasure of a potential substance.

"There's this perception that with Medicated Assisted Treatment, you're trading one thing for another," Foss said. "And when you're actually there providing and working with a client, it's totally, totally different."

During the treatment, Foss said, patients are often able to maintain steady employment and begin to earn the trust of their families.

"It's rewarding, it's totally life-changing," Foss said.

After receiving a nearly million-dollar federal grant, the organization expanded its MAT access points into both Morton and Packwood four days a week and helped fund services offered in the Lewis County Jail. The MAT clinics in Morton and Packwood operate through a partnership with Arbor Health.

"It's a good thing to be aware of as an option that's out there for individuals who are struggling with alcohol or opioid use disorders," Foss said. "There's a lot of opportunity, so just feel free to get in touch with us."

Lewis County Commissioner Scott Brummer, who invited Foss, said he organized the discussion following the March 28 Opioid Summit at Centralia College. The summit, he said, lacked the perspective of those who sought to move away from prescriptions completely and continue treatment for SUDs.

"The goal being to not be taking prescriptions forever," Brummer said. "Because we know that the health concerns over taking any type of — whether it be an antagonist opioid or any of these long term — is detrimental to internal organs, memory. There are many side effects."

According to Foss, while it's rewarding to see individuals who no longer need treatment, the decision to stop MAT services must be made on a case-by-case basis.

"I just have to be careful, because I know the relapse rate is really high. You really have to know the individual," Foss said. "It's all about risk."

In addition to their new facilities in Morton and Packwood, and the existing service in the Lewis County Jail, Cascade offers MAT services from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday at 135 W. Main St., Chehalis.

"I understand that this is a new partnership and grant-funded, but I really appreciate the holistic approach of this whole thing between Cascade and Arbor Health," Brummer said.