Recovering from a dependency upon narcotics can be a difficult road no matter whether that addiction stems from recreational use or if the drugs were prescribed by a medical professional.
A recently-opened clinic in Milledgeville seeks to help out those who want to get their lives on a better track. Dr. Walter Larisey, III, M.D. is the owner of New Life Clinic, an outpatient narcotic dependency treatment facility located on Roberson Mill Road that screens potential candidates for the controlled substance buprenorphine-naloxone, better known by the brand name Suboxone.
Larisey, a medical professional who has dealt mainly in the fields of anesthesiology and pain management throughout his career, has an absolute belief in the narcotic dependence treatment drug that he now prescribes to patients. That belief started after seeing the drug’s results on some of his own family members.
“I had essentially retired, but I ended up having a niece and a nephew that got into drugs when they were young,” Larisey said. “They got on Suboxone and it absolutely changed their lives. They went back to being totally normal after about 10 years of being on street drugs.”
Larisey has held many jobs at many medical facilities across multiple states, but he said his current work helping patients on their road to recovery is the most fulfilling he’s ever done.
“It’s been the most fun thing I've done since I got into medicine because without exception — in my experience — it’s worked on everybody who has continued the program. That’s pretty rare to say in medicine.”
Originally from Charleston, S.C., Larisey located his new clinic in Milledgeville since it’s basically a midpoint between his hometown and his family living around the southeast. This new location is also of other geographical importance.
“Small towns are where we need the help,” he said. “There are people in Atlanta doing what I'm doing, but there’s not anyone within 50 miles doing it here.”
The way he came up with the name for his clinic is rather straightforward. As he claimed this method of treatment has worked on every patient that has stuck with it, he’s had multiple patients tell him during treatment, “Doc, I’ve got a new life.” It’s not just because of the departure of withdrawal symptoms either as recovering addicts find their pockets lined with more money now that they aren’t going above their means to pay for street drugs.
The argument against Suboxone is that addicts are just trading one drug for another, but Larisey takes a different view, comparing Suboxone to a daily medication one might take for blood pressure or diabetes management. As to whether patients can work themselves off the drug, the New Life Clinic owner says that is yet to be seen.
“Right now it’s up in the air as to whether you can get off of it,” Larisey said. “Nobody is trying to take anybody off for two years. They’re finding you that your likelihood of rebounding and going back into narcotics again are higher than if you don’t ever get off.”
The process for receiving treatment is similar to visiting most any other doctor’s office or clinic. Larisey says those seeking access to Suboxone to treat their opioid dependence need first to call his office to make an appointment with him for an examination, but before that exam takes place the patient must be drug-free for the last 12 hours or so which means they’ll be entering withdrawal. Larisey does an interview, a physical exam (if necessary), as well as a drug and medical history. Those who fit the criteria can leave the office with a weeklong trial of Suboxone, and over the course of the week they are to remain in communication with Dr. Larisey so they can figure out dosage. If all goes well, he writes a month’s prescription once the week is up.
Larisey says business has been a little slow in the short time since he’s opened, but prior experience tells him that it only takes a few patients to get things going.
“Word-of-mouth is basically the best way to go with this,” he said. “Once it takes off it goes real well. The plus side is there’s a lot of people that need the help. The negative side is most everybody has never heard of it. What it usually boils down to is that my patients will tell their friends who have the same issues and then they’ll come in.”
New Life Clinic is located at 187 Roberson Mill Road in suite 206 (across from the bowling alley). For more information, visit www.newlifeclinicga.com or call 478-453-0005.