Finding relief for addiction can be one of the most difficult challenges for a person. When Stacy Eckhoff walked into the Wadena Clinic in early March, it was a time for celebration. Another box checked off – 12 months of sobriety.
Her provider, Laura DuChene, M.D., and RN Health Coach, Shelley Glenz, were full of smiles when she came in for her appointment. Tears of happiness were shed. Hugs were shared. Stacy received a card, certificate, and flowers. Everyone celebrated her proud accomplishment. Stacy is the first patient in Tri-County Health Care’s suboxone program to reach 12 months of sobriety.
Suboxone is a prescription medication used to treat those addicted or dependent on prescription or illegal opioids. The medication works by blocking opioids from affecting the brain, cutting down on cravings, and helping ease withdrawal symptoms.
“I’m really proud that I’ve reached a point in my life where I don’t need substances to fulfill my happiness,” Stacy said. “It started out one day at a time. Now it’s one month at a time. It’s a normal thing for me.”
Taking the first step
The road to recovery was not a straight path. Substances controlled her life while depression and anxiety made sobriety seem impossible. One day, Stacy woke up and decided she was tired of the roller coaster and wanted to take control of her life.
Not content with the care she had received elsewhere, Stacy made an appointment with Dr. DuChene at Tri-County Health Care. She explained her background, troubles, and goals and they developed a plan. This included:
- Routine visits with Dr. DuChene
- A RN Health Coach to offer ongoing support and accountability
- Suboxone education monitoring
- Recommendations for community support programs
- Chronic pain education
At first, Stacy was nervous about how many people were involved. She changed her mind when support from her care team turned out to be the most helpful part of the process.
“The accountability is the main thing for me. It prevents me from slipping or backpedaling. I don’t want to do that,” Stacy said. “I’ve been getting out more and going to meetings. I’m staying in touch with my doctor and care coordinator better than what I have in the past.”
Looking forward to the future
12 months of sobriety is a great achievement. However, it’s not the end of the road. Stacy knows that but is celebrating the moment.
One of her favorite hobbies is making crafts at home. She enjoys crocheting, making blankets, and coloring. Focusing on enjoying these activities was a major help at the start of her journey.
Stacy’s goal is to stay sober, and to get out into the community more often. While she is a shy person, attending community support programs has helped her achieve this goal. She recommends anyone struggling with addiction to reach out for help. Tri-County Health Care answered the call in her time of need.
“They have heart here. I’m amazed they remember my story every time I come in. They listen and care even when I make mistakes,” Stacy said. “Stay positive, call your doctor or coordinator, start going to meetings and talking to people. When you don’t talk is when you end up in trouble. There’s always somebody out there who will listen to you. The biggest thing is to never give up on yourself.”
Finding addiction relief with suboxone
In 2018, Tri-County Health Care offered its providers the option to take training for this new form of treatment. In addition to Dr. DuChene, John Pate, M.D. and Heidi Olson, M.D. also completed this training. Prior to this, patients in the area seeking this treatment had to drive up to an hour away for this service.
Suboxone is designed to ease symptoms of withdrawal. “It works twofold,” Dr. DuChene said. “One, it cuts down on cravings and takes away the withdrawal symptoms. Two, if the patient takes suboxone and then tried to take an opioid, the opioid isn’t going to do a darn thing.”
The suboxone program has seen many patients experience success. Reducing the withdrawal symptoms is a major step in overcoming addiction. This, along with the support system, helps people transition to a different way of life.
“It’s very rewarding to see patients leading healthy lifestyles in every way,” said Shelley Glenz, RN Health Coach. “We see their activity level and involvement in community increase, and quality of life improve.”
Tri-County Health Care is here to help
To learn more or make an appointment, call 218-631-3510 and ask about the suboxone program, or visit TCHC.org. Shelley will provide additional information about addiction relief and help set up a plan.
“We want people to know we’ll meet them wherever they’re at and develop a plan from there,” Shelley said. “There’s no judgment. We’re here to help patients regain control of their life.”
***DISCLAIMER: This took place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.