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Drug treatment center opens in Greensburg

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By Richard Gazarik
Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 11:03 p.m.
 

A Pittsburgh drug treatment center, which prescribes Suboxone to treat drug addiction, has opened a clinic in Greensburg.

Allied Addiction Recovery at 766 E. Pittsburgh St. will be open Tuesdays and Fridays, according to the company.

AAR describes itself as an “abstinence-based” drug-and-alcohol treatment program that offers Suboxone for managing withdrawal symptoms from addiction to painkillers, heroin and other narcotics. In addition, it offers Subutex, which is administered to pregnant addicts.

Suboxone's main ingredients are buprenorphine and naloxone, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Subutex does not contain naloxone, which is used by emergency room physicians and paramedics to treat overdose patients who stop breathing. The drug quickly restores breathing if it is administered in time but can cause harm to a fetus, according to the FDA.

Allied CEO Barney Seaton said he had been searching for a location to expand his operation beyond Pittsburgh and Monroeville for several months, and described Westmoreland County as an “under-served area.”

“With the launch of this location, we are looking forward to collaborating with the Westmoreland Drug and Alcohol Commission to make a significant impact in the Greensburg area,” Seaton said on Tuesday.

“Today's treatment landscape is full of non-licensed ‘Suboxone clinics,' and the most important component to becoming drug-free is counseling, which non-licensed facilities are unable to provide due to state licensing regulations,” he said.

Drug treatment experts say that for Suboxone and Subutex prescriptions to be effective, they must be accompanied by counseling.

A number of physicians in Westmoreland County, who are not addiction-treatment specialists, prescribe Suboxone to addicts, but the doctors do not always provide psychological counseling to make the treatment effective, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

These unregulated clinics are what is causing Suboxone to be diverted and sold on the street, law enforcement officials said.

Westmoreland County officials have complained that there have not been enough resources within the county to handle the increase in people with heroin and painkiller addictions, including a lack of in-patient detoxification centers.

But that is changing.

Aliquippa-based Gateway Rehabilitation will open an inpatient unit in the county next year.

The Westmoreland Drug and Alcohol Commission has formed the position of a mobile case manager who will be on hand in hospital emergency rooms to immediately provide offers of counseling and treatment for overdose patients at Excela hospitals in Greensburg, Latrobe and Mt. Pleasant.

The county has a two methadone clinics, plus rehabilitation programs, at SPHS Behavioral Health, Greenbrier Treatment and Gateway. Med-Tech in Greensburg uses Subutex to treat pregnant addicts and has a relationship with Magee Women's Hospital, which sends addicts from Westmoreland County to Med-Tech for treatment.

And Westmoreland County is forming a drug court to specifically handle drug-related crimes and give defendants who are addicts a chance to enter recovery programs.

Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at rgazarik@tribweb.com.

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