LOGAN (ABC4 News) – Logan will be home to Intermountain Healthcare’s newest DaySpring Clinic, bringing the area’s first opioid treatment program to the Cache Valley, according to its program director.
Opioid addiction is nothing new for John Cody Jones, who is a recovering patient at Bear River Health Department. The Smithfield resident said his battle has been up and down for three decades.
“It made me feel good. It made it, so I could work harder. But then it got to where I would just use more and work less,” said Jones. “You get sick. You get dependent on it and it’s physical, it’s mental. You crave it. You need it. You can’t function without it.”
Jones said his father first gave him access to opioids when he was just 10 years old. He explained that later in his 20s, he became addicted to pain pills prescribed to treat his back pain from construction work. He eventually transitioned to heroin because it was cheaper.
“It made me put everything else on the back burner. My only focus was using. No matter what I had to do… if I had to steal, cheat, lie to get it, that’s what I would do,” he said. “I lost a lot of friends. I lost a lot of trust. I’m grateful my wife stuck around the whole time, but barely. I lost a good relationship with my kids. I wasn’t there for a lot of their younger years, ’cause I was just out using.”
Jones had gone through treatment multiple times. But it wasn’t until December 18, 2015, that he finally made the decision to get clean.
“My last overdose…they recorded I was dead for a little over four minutes. It was six shots of Narcan to bring me back and ever since that night, I haven’t touched heroin or meth,” he said. “I’m at a point in my life where I continue using and die or I just take treatment by the horns and I do good.”
Based on his experiences, Jones said there is a growing need for opioid treatment programs and resources in the area.
Experts agree. According to a 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment conducted by Logan Regional Hospital, prescription opioid misuse was identified as one of the priority health needs in the area.
The report states that although the drug poisoning rate for the Logan Regional Hospital community is less than the state and national rate, the majority of drug poisoning deaths are attributed to prescription opioids.
Josiah Smith, Program Director for Intermountain DaySpring Logan said that’s why two years ago, Intermountain decided to build the clinic.
“It’s kind of one of those things that nobody really knows about or knows is going on. But the second you talk to someone, they know somebody who has a problem,” said Smith. “That’s kind of a misconception that the need isn’t really here in Cache Valley.”
Holly Budge, Public Health Resource Manager at Bear River Health Department said they currently offer substance abuse counseling, medication-assisted therapy, family support and education, outpatient treatment for opioid addiction.
BRHD Clinical Mental Health Counselor Angie White said they are not struggling to meet the need for patients with opioid addiction in Cache Valley, but having more places where patients can go is a good thing.
In a July 2017 report by the Utah Department of Human Services, there were 22 opioid deaths in 2014-2015 and 81 emergency department encounters in 2013-2014. Smith said his clinic will be the first to offer an opioid treatment program in the area. Before, Smith said patients had to commute down to Ogden to receive treatment.
“I actually worked for a private company that did the same thing and we had close to 100 patients that were traveling from Cache Valley to Ogden to receive treatment. So there’s definitely a need here,” said Smith. “That’s a barrier for people that have to travel so far to get treatment. It’s kind of a deterrent. They’d rather not do it and treatment’s so important right now for these people who are suffering.”
Jones said he’s happy to hear more resources and options will be available for patients in Cache Valley. He hopes that by adding more visibility in the area, more addicts will seek help.
“The sky’s a lot bluer today than it was three years ago. For me, there is hope. I hope I’m living proof of that you can live a long and healthy life without drugs,” said Jones.
The clinic’s opening date is scheduled for April 16 and will be able to serve 200 patients in its new location on 550 East 1400 North in Logan. They’ll have one physician, a physician assistant, and two substance disorder counselors.
“As we grow, we’ll add more substance abuse counselors,” said Smith.
The Logan clinic will be Intermountain’s third DaySpring Clinic, following Cottonwood and Utah Valley.