How CODAC is helping one mother stay clean for her son

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - CODAC opened Southern Arizona's first 24/7 opioid treatment crisis center in early December. The center is essentially a one-stop-shop for people recovering from opioid-related drug addictions. 

Alison Anderson is a client there working on her own recovery. She visits CODAC once a week to pick up take-home doses of medication and is paired with a counselor to help her stay clean.

But, it has been a tough journey to where she is now. For eight years, Anderson lived on the streets. "I lied, I stole, I did everything terrible you could think of to my family," Anderson said.

After several times in and out of rehab, Anderson's family distanced themselves from her. "I hadn't talked to my mom in 3 years," Anderson said. But, about a year and a half ago, she got the wake up call that changed everything. She found out she was pregnant.

 "I just called her and was like, 'hey, I'm pregnant.' And she's kind of been back in my life ever since," Anderson said of reconnecting with her mom who immediately helped her get treatment.

Years prior, doctors told Anderson she would most likely not be able to have children, so this, as her mother put it, was, "the miracle [she] was looking for," Anderson said.

It was also what made this attempt to get clean the one that worked. "I had tried to quit before, but I wasn't really serious," Anderson said. "I really didn't have a reason to quit, but this time was different."

Anderson then got involved with TMC and CODAC to start detox. She moved into a sober living facility, and she's been taking methadone to slowly wean herself off of the heroin and methamphetamine she was addicted to.

"I don't think about heroin, it takes away the cravings," Anderson said of methadone.

She has dramatically reduced her dose since her son Atley was born, and she says she eventually wants to be off it completely.

Her son is now one year old and is developing normally, but he did experience withdrawal symptoms when he was first born. 

"He wasn't even alive for a full 24 hours before they took him to the NICU because the withdrawal symptoms set in, and I lived in the NICU for a month and a half," Anderson said of her son Atley. "I felt really guilty because I know how bad he was feeling and what he was going through."

Atley is healthy and crawling and talking now, and Alison is living with him on her own working to support them both.

"I'm so glad I have him. He really did save my life. I say that a lot," Anderson said. "Completely saved my life."

Without CODAC, Anderson says the recovery process would have been a lot more difficult. The new 24/7 center is positioning itself to provide care for patients at the moment they want to commit to recovery.

The facility is set up for primary care, counseling, psychiatric care, and medication-assisted treatment through Methadone, Suboxone, and Vivitrol.

The center is located at 380 E. Ft. Lowell Rd., and anyone seeking help is encouraged to visit the center on a walk-in basis as needed.

Primary Care: CODAC's Medication Assisted Treatment Program offers patients primary care services, and in hours where physicians are not present, patients can still get care via telemedicine. Doctors from the east coast and across the country can conference in for patients needing primary care.

Counseling: This CODAC center offers personal and peer counseling to all its clients. Peer counselors are matched with patients throughout the recovery process to give patients a clear view of what sober living looks like and the opportunity to speak with someone who has been through what they're going through. 

Psychiatric Care: CODAC specializes in psychiatric care. Psychiatrists are on hand to help patients work through the biochemical changes happening in their brains as opioids leave their bodies. 

"Addiction really is a brain disease," said Medical Director Dr. Onaate. "So it really does affect the brain, and when a person becomes addicted, it turns off the new brain and turns on the 'lizard brain,' and really that's just the drive to seek food shelter and water."

Medication Assisted Treatment: This helps addicts slowly and steadily wean themselves off powerful opiate drugs by taking small doses of opiate-blocking drugs and drugs to limit the withdrawal symptoms. This CODAC facility has nine dosing windows where patients come daily for treatment. Patients must come six days per week for the first 90 days, but after that initial period, patients can earn the privilege of take-home doses. 

24/7 operations will begin January 1st, 2018. 


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