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Updated Ogden Regional unit provides long-term support for substance abuse

By Jamie Lampros - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Dec 7, 2021

Brian Wolfer, Special to the Standard-Examiner

Ogden Regional Medical Center is pictured on Monday, June 22, 2020.

Ogden Regional Medical Center has a new, updated behavioral health unit specializing in long-term residential treatment, outpatient treatment and follow-up care.

The 12-bed facility treats people 18 years and older who suffer from substance abuse problems.

“For a long time, we’ve had services in the hospital, but those have been mostly a quick couple of days inpatient where we detox the individual and discharge them home,” said Justin Hatch, director of behavioral health services. “But we have seen the need where a lot of people need longer-term treatment.”

Hatch said with the new facility, patients can get stabilized and receive coping skills to get back to normal life. Some patients, he said, have stayed at the facility for 30 to 90 days.

“What stands apart for us from other facilities is that we are affiliated with the hospital and have 24-hour nursing care,” he said. “We also have doctors, addiction doctors and psychiatrists who are available seven days a week, and that’s pretty unique.”

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a new record high in the United States among drug overdose deaths. Over 100,000 people died between April 2020 and April 2021, up from about 78,000 during the previous 12-month period. Most of those deaths stemmed from opioids, including fentanyl. In Utah, there were 437 opioid-related deaths in 2018, the latest data available.

“In our community, we see abuse of opioids in general,” Hatch said. “We see a lot of people who get started on prescription pain medication. They get addicted and gradually increase the dosage and oftentimes they obtain them illegally and move to heroin because it’s cheaper for them to get.”

Hatch said heroin typically has the same effect on the brain as prescription painkillers.

“One of the big concerns out there is that people are getting heroin laced with fentanyl and that can cause people to overdose really quickly,” he said.

Hatch also said many drugs require a slow taper or they can have deadly consequences. Benzodiazepines such as Xanax should never be stopped cold turkey, he warned.

“We have to remind people that recovery is a process,” he said. “People don’t just decide one day that they’re going to stop drinking or stop taking drugs. It takes about seven times for people in treatment to achieve long-term recovery. That’s a staggering statistic, but it’s the reality.”

Hatch said instead of focusing on whether a person leaves the facility 100% clean, the staff tries to focus on whether they left a little bit further ahead.

“If they do relapse, we welcome them back with open arms and start right where they’re at in their recovery. We’ve seen some really cool things where people come in jobless or homeless. They’ve lost relationships with family members and don’t have a lot,” he said. “By the time they go through the program, not only do they leave with some skills to be able to stay clean and sober, they have a little bit more stability in life so they have a better chance at long-term recovery.”

Hatch said the goal of the facility is to get people in as soon as possible when they are in crisis. After treating the patient in an inpatient setting, they move to the aftercare program.

“We do aftercare for two years after they complete the program and we basically tell them to come back once a week and meet with a counselor in a group setting. That program is free and it’s offered for life,” Hatch said. “Everyone who goes through the program is enlisted in the alumni association. We want to keep people connected and let them know there is help and that we care about them.”

For more information, you can call 801-479-2250 or visit the website at actforlife.net.

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