In Drug Addiction Treatment
From Poleznaya Gazeta (The Useful Newspaper)
In recent years, newspapers, television and radio programs have
increasingly promoted the medication Buprenex as a treatment for
drug addiction. The SOS Foundation has become a pioneer in the treatment
of addiction with Buprenex. The foundation has developed a program
entitled Iskhod (End) for the treatment, and physical and psychological
rehabilitation of heroin addicts.
I met Sergei Kovalyov in the foundations main office in Manhattans
Empire State Building. Entering the building, I felt a surge of
emotions. The architecture and interior of the Empire State Building
arouse joyful, life-affirming feelings in me. It is hard to believe
that this is where the SOS Foundation treats drug addiction, such
a bleak illness.
Q: I recently read an article in an American newspaper that
there are more than 1200 different organizations and programs for
the treatment of drug addicts and alcoholics in New York. The new
program Iskhod seems to be more of the same. As a well-known specialist
in the area of prevention and treatment of drug addiction, can you
explain what distinguishes Iskhod from the other programs?
Kovalyov: The program is oriented specifically to the Russian-speaking
population in New York. Unfortunately, however, such treatment comes
too late for many of our young people. In our community, the problem
of drug addiction has assumed massive proportions. It is not a matter
of a few families, but of a community-wide disaster. Statistics
show that drug addiction occurs not only among 20-40 year-olds,
but adolescents as well. Drug use by children increases by the day.
There are many treatments programs, but the results have not been
impressive so far.
Q: The medication Buprenex is an integral part of Iskhod. Is
Buprenex really a miraculous solution? Will it effectively cure
Kovalyov: Buprenex is clearly effective for treating depression
and deterring patients from resuming drug use. It restores positive
emotions, and physical and emotional energy. But it is not the only
means to treat addiction. The belief that this miraculous
solution will cure drug addiction forever is false! Buprenex
by itself has not cured a single drug addict. Taking Buprenex only
leads to new addiction. The patients lifestyle remains the
same as it was during his heroin addiction. Burprenex can even worsen
the situation; the patient starts taking the medicine, but he soon
devises a pretext for abandoning treatment and resumes his heroin
Q: How can drug addiction treatment be successful?
Kovalyov: The creators of Iskhod considered the pros and
cons of prescribing Buprenex and developed a unique treatment-rehabilitation
program that has proven to be successful. The success of the program
does not rely solely on Buprenex, but on a multi-faceted approach.
You are probably aware that in America, medical professionals have
narrow specializations. Such a situation is entirely inappropriate
for the treatment of drug addiction, a complex illness. We need
specialists in multiple spheres: cardiologists, psychiatrists, psychologists,
dietitians, social workers and so on.
Q: What is the greatest challenge in drug addiction treatment?
Kovalyov: I would name three primary challenges in the treatment
of heroin addiction: motivating the drug addict to begin treatment,
keeping him in treatment for the duration of the program and of
course, preventing him from resuming drug use. But those are, of
course, only the main difficulties.
Q: Does Iskhod have specific advantages over other programs?
Kovalyov: Unquestionably! I would go so far as saying that
similar program similar to Iskhod does not exist just in New York,
but anywhere else in the country. Iskhod is the first comprehensive
program, which incorporates all of the innovations in medical treatment,
and traditional and alternative therapies for psychological and
social rehabilitation. This is a triumph for a group of specialists
in our Russian-speaking community. I am confident that we will see
an improvement in the results of treatment of heroin addiction.
You should remember another significant factor: the program was
developed by an international team in the field of drug addiction
specifically for Russian-speaking immigrants in the United States.
Iskhod takes in to account the language, psychological and social
peculiarities of that population.
Q: How have patients reacted to Iskhod?
Kovalyov: There is enormous interest in the program. We
receive calls everyday from 120 to 150 people inquiring about Iskhod.
We are unable to satisfy the needs of such a vast group of potential
clients. We get calls from outside of New York, where similar programs
do not exist. Iskhod already has a waiting list. We have to turn
away potential clients for objective reasons. There are also subjective
reasons for turning away patients, mainly the inability of the patient
to pay for treatment. Insurance policies generally cover doctor
visits. Most insurance policies will also cover the cost of medicine.
By the way, Medicaid is by far the most suitable healthcare insurance
for our program. Insurance companies in other states will not pay
for the treatment. As a result, most patients outside of New York
have difficulty taking part in Iskhod.
Q: What are the requirements for participation in the Iskhod
Kovalyov: Iskhod is a multi-faceted approach to treatment.
There are the usual procedures that are prescribed to every patient,
such as detoxification. In addition, we undertake a large number
of procedures that correspond to a patients individual and
There are general conditions and requirements for participation
in the program: the program only treats patients who have abused
heroin. Furthermore, the client must have Medicaid or another form
of insurance, which covers traditional forms of treatment: doctor
visits, medicine and so on.
In addition, the client is expected to be able to pay for alternative
methods of treatment and rehabilitation, which traditional insurance
policies do not cover.
The minimum length of the program is a month and a half. We discuss
all aspects of the treatment in our meetings with parents. In the
past, these meetings took place once a month. But the increased
interest in Iskhod has compelled us to hold meetings twice a month,
every second and fourth Tuesday. We not only meet with parents,
but with young people who are using heroin. Our experience has shown
that in the course of the meetings, young people very frequently
make the decision to begin treatment.
Q: What do you do for parents whose children refuse to seek
Kovalyov: A drug addict needs to be extraordinarily motivated
to seek treatment. In order for parents to motivate their children
to seek treatment, the parents must first understand what drug addiction
is. The SOS Foundation has a special school for parents. In our
courses, we train the parents to speak to their children about seeking
treatment for drug addiction.
Translated from Russian by Elizabeth LeBras
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