MHC Clinic offers TennCare patients medically assisted treatment to get off opioids
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — For the first time, Nashville has a clinic that treats low income patients for opioid addiction with medicine. Medically assisted treatment (MET) is when a patient is given a drug that mimics the effects of opioids in a controlled setting, so they can go through recovery without feeling the horrible withdrawal effects.
The Suboxone clinic is located at the Mental Health Cooperative in Metro Center. It’s the first clinic in middle Tennessee to specifically offer care to TennCare patients with medicine, counseling, and everything else that goes into recovery.
Dara Badgley has struggled with addiction for years.
“I was working in nursing homes and I had pulled a muscle in my back and that’s when I got hooked on pain pills. I knew nothing about the withdrawals until they cut me off of them,” Badgley said.
“Once I found out that heroin was cheaper and easier to get, at that point, that’s all it took. I did it one time and then from then I was on that for probably 2-3 years,” Badgley said.
Her wakeup call was getting arrested with her baby daughter in the backseat.
“I feel so bad that I was doing it with her in the car, but it was also a blessing because it made me realize if I don’t get my stuff together, I’m gonna lose my kids, and that’s my biggest fear,” Badgley said.
Eventually, she found the clinic at the Mental Health Cooperative. It serves TennCare patients with Suboxone, a drug that helps ween people off opioids without giving them the high, or the withdrawal when controlled.
“So patients that come in are used to having withdrawal symptoms or, you know, suffering when they don’t have their pain pills or when they’re not able to get heroin, and what we do is prescribe medication that will allow them to slowly kick that addiction and feel much better,” Dr. Oba Hollie said.
Dr. Hollie says the medication is controlled, so they don’t get high. Plus, they’re pairing it with counseling, psychiatric services, and any other treatment the patient needs for a comprehensive recovery.
“The stories of people who are able to change their lives for the better, who are able to become stable with their children, to be able to work consistently and hold a job. I’ve seen people who are able to regain relationships with their spouses because they were able to kick their addiction,” Dr. Hollie said.
That’s exactly what Badgley has experienced.
“It has saved my life. It has helped me come out of some very dark places,” Badgley said.
Medically assisted treatment has been controversial, just because it can be abused if people get it off the streets, but in a controlled environment like this, research shows there are far more benefits than negatives.