ASAC Helps Patients with Opioid Use Disorder in the Corridor

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By Gabriela Vidal

A new clinic in Cedar Rapids will soon help people affected by drug addiction by providing immediate access to medicated assisted treatment.

The Area Substance Abuse Council (ASAC) partnered with UCS Healthcare to bring a medication assisted treatment (MAT) clinic, to their facility, so patients can access the medication they need while seeking treatment with counselors at the center. Former patient Tara Jennings said this kind of treatment was crucial to overcoming her combined addiction to meth, opioids and alcohol.

“I didn’t have a life before I came to ASAC. I was seeking drugs 24/7. I was not a mother to my children,” said Jennings.

When she temporarily lost custody of her daughter, she finally sought treatment through medication.

“ASAC received a grant several years ago to provide medication assisted treatment, and then of course when the grant ended, we struggled,” said Kelly Reitzler, Director of Recovery Center at ASAC.

Counselors at ASAC assess patients for possible treatment solutions, but they cannot prescribe medications.

Now, a new permanent clinic will provide that immediate access for opioid and alcohol dependent patients. Right now, around 450 people ASAC treats qualify to seek medication through this clinic.

“It will be staffed by UCS. They will have a nurse that’s on staff that does the dispensing of the medications. There will be a visiting physician that meets with patients,” said Reitzler.

Rreitzler said unlike two other clinics in the area, there will be a larger variety of medications.

ASAC will also accept patient insurance to reduce overall costs.

“So we will be offering methadone, suboxone ,in addition to naltrexone and vivitrol,” said Reitzler.

She said immediate access has another benefit for their patients.

“If they can get access to medications at the same time that they’re accessing their treatment, transportation becomes less of a barrier,” said Reitzler.

Tara hopes this will help more addicts regain their life.

“Yes, tremendously,” said Tara Jennings.

The clinic is expected to open to patients at ASAC’s main location in Cedar Rapids, 3601 16th Ave SW some time later this spring or early summer.

ASAC is also working on starting a clinic at another location in Clinton.