Photo by BRIJORAE PRODUCTIONS
Valeo Behavioral Health’s staff includes Patrick Eldringhoff, addiction case manager, Cathy Walker, director and Brad Sloan, detox manager.
Brad Sloan, detox manager at Valeo Behavioral Health, says addiction has always been an issue. It is simply the drug of choice that changes. A few years ago, the emphasis was on heroine. Today it is more about prescription opiates. The problem, according to Sloan, is that we can’t just ban opioids because they are the standard for pain management. “These are good medications that do what they are designed to do—reduce pain,” Sloan said. “However, sometimes when people use these medications over long periods of time, they can become dependent on them. And that dependence can lead to addictive behavior.” Sloan says that once the focus shifts from pain management to a search
for euphoria, it becomes an addiction. And, once the addiction takes hold, it isn’t that big of a jump from prescription pain medicine to heroine. “People will find a way to get that euphoric feeling they crave,” Sloan said. “It is really an ‘obsession of the mind’ that will keep the body in a place where it thinks it needs to drug to survive.” Cathy Walker, director of Valeo Recovery Center, says one of the primary reasons opioid addiction is so hard to combat is because of the physical discomfort involved with detoxification. “When patients go through withdrawal, they actually feel like they are going to die,” Walker said. “For five to seven days, it feels like the worst flu you have ever experienced.”
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That is why a tapered approach to detoxification is the best approach for many people suffering from substance use disorders. That is where Valeo comes in—beginning with safe, medically controlled detox programs and providing longer term inpatient treatment options, followed with ongoing after care to prevent relapses. Part of those after care service include connecting patients up with community services to help them stay clean for the long term. Patrick Eldringhoff, addiction case manager, helps recovering addicts find safe housing in a clean environment to help provide stability. He finds employment referrals, connects them with career counseling and educational services to put them on the road to success.
“I help people discover their dreams and the put them on a path to making those dreams come true,” Eldringhoff said. “In my own experience, when I had those long-term goals in place, it made my recovery tangible. I want to do that for others.” Eldringhoff is also part of the homeless outreach team that goes out to communities to bring food, clothing and blankets. He says he always goes out with the hope that someone will seek help as a result. “Whenever Patrick goes out, we place a detox bed on hold, just in case he finds someone who wants to use our services here at Valeo,” Walker said. The key piece to helping people recover from addiction, Sloan says, is to build relationships and trust so that they understand people really want to help them succeed. “All it takes is a moment of clarity and someone there willing to help them,” Sloan said. “We are here to walk alongside and facilitate recovery in that moment. That is really what it all comes down to.” While opioid misuse may not be at crisis level locally, people and businesses are taking an active role to ensure it never reaches that point. Doctors, pharmacists, regulatory agencies, volunteer committees and treatment facilities in Topeka are working toward a common goal: minimizing substance abuse. TK