Monarch Health Addiction Recovery Clinics is opening its first location on East Washington Avenue in downtown Madison next week. The family medical clinic will provide treatments to fight opioid addiction as well as counseling, lab testing, and pharmacy services for patients. The clinic will be owned and run by two emergency medicine specialists: Dr. Mike Repplinger and Dr. Howard Croft.
Dr. Croft says he and Dr. Repplinger felt there has been a need for such a clinic for some time now.
“So we’ve worked in emergency departments for several years, and we see people all the time that we can identify as having significant drug abuse issues and there’s just been a relative lack of places to send these people to get adequate treatment out of the emergency department.”
The clinic will begin seeing patients in-person after they are screened for rapid COVID-19 testing. The clinic’s capacity will also be limited and physicians will be equipped with adequate PPE.
This opening comes as opioid overdoses have been on the rise this year. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services found there was a 107% statewide increase in the number of suspected opioid overdoses between March and July 13 compared to the same time frame in 2019.
Paul Krupski, the Director of Opioid Initiatives at DHS, says that this year has seen a marked increase in suspected drug overdoses.
“So far in 2020, during the COVID time period specifically, we definitely have seen a rise in suspected overdoses and in not just opioids but for all substances.”
There’s no definitive way to say what has caused this increase in opioid-related overdoses, but COVID-19 has certainly played a role. Dr. Elizabeth Salisbury-Afshar, an associate professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison who specializes in addiction medicine and public health, says that the complex public health issue is faced with multiple factors right now.
“What we know right now, based on what we’re seeing clinically, that obviously everyone is experiencing increased stress which can put people who are actively using drugs or people in recovery at risk for increased use or for someone maybe who hasn’t been using for some time put them at risk for relapse.”
Dr. Salisbury-Afshar also added that COVID-19 has been leaving people feeling more isolated while also cutting them off from access to many in-person recovery services. This is also combined with an increasing amount of street drugs being cut with the designer drugs Isotonitazine and Flualprazolam, making the drug market even more dangerous.
According to information from the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, there were 20 opioid-related deaths in Madison this year as of August 6th. Last year’s total was 29.
The Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline is available to call 24/7 at 211 or 833-944-4673. The helpline is designed to freely aid individuals in connecting to the proper resources for overcoming harmful substance abuse.
Reporting for W-O-R-T news, I’m Ryan Wollersheim