Finding Help for Opioid Addiction


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — This month, KOLR10 is focusing on getting people help for various struggles.  The opioid epidemic has been well documented in Missouri.  KOLR10’s Jesse Inman explores some options people have to combat an addiction to those drugs. 

Missouri’s death rate for opioid overdoses is 160 percent higher than the national average. And with all that has been said about how bad the problem is, some people who are addicted may be ready to get help, they just don’t know what their options are. 

“We just happen to have great medication treatments for opioid addiction,” says Dr. Robert Elworth, an addiction specialist at CoxHealth in Springfield.

Because of that, Dr. Elworth suggests that folks pursue a treatment rather than just go cold turkey. Elworth says abstinence alone can be dangerous. 

“It’s about 5% effective. Which means those people have gone back to opioids, they have relapsed back to opioids and a lot of them will overdose. So it just doesn’t work well.” 

“What is the best kind of treatment? Meeting the clients needs,” says Sally Gibson, VP of addiction services for Burrell Behavioral Health.

Individualized treatment is the focus for Burrell Behavioral Health.  Gibson says Burrell does outpatient and inpatient services.  “If I have a client that has a stable home environment, that has good support systems, they don’t need inpatient.”

But for those who may be surrounded by others who are abusing opioids like prescription drugs or heroin…. “They probably are going to need inpatient to be able to get away from that long enough to find a new place to live,”  Gibson says.

For those worrying about how to pay, Burrell accepts all pay sources. 
“Some people have insurance and insurance covers it, Medicaid covers it. Also we have state funding that we use.” 

That state funding is an state targeted response grant that helps people with those costs. But again, those costs could vary as treatments are individualized, Gibson says. “The way we do our residential, it’s not based on the bed, it’s how many services you get a day.” 

For those who may not need residence, there are different medications that can be taken to help fight opioid cravings. Suboxone is one of those, Mercy Pharmacist Terry Barks explains that Suboxone contains two products.

“Buprenorphine which is a mild opioid, and Naloxone which is an opioid blocking or reversing agent. It is very low abuse potential, but it is enough that it suppresses cravings and withdrawal symptoms.” 

“We use Buprenorphine or Suboxone if it is a combination drug.. and we use methadone.” 

Behavioral Health Group’s two clinics in Springfield are the only places town with Methadone as an option for treatment. It acts as a pain reliever and is a part of detoxification and maintenance for  those addicted to opioids. BHG Program Director Jaimee McGuire says methadone is a premium type of option. 

“Methadone is kind of the gold standard,  it’s the oldie but goodie. It was approved for use in the United States in 1947. It has a long history of working well to treat opioid addiction.”

BHG is usually able to get people in the same day they inquire for treatment, and they offer more than just medication, McGuire says. “Right now we have 4 full-time counselors at this clinic.” 

One of those counselors is Trent Twitty. He helps people stay on track during their recovery. 
“We work on relapse prevention, on triggers, life stressors. Things that could lead people to relapse or to use.” 

Pricing at BHG goes as follows: Methadone treatments are $111 dollars per week. Buprenorphine, or Subxone, is a daily charge, and most are on a dose that runs $16 per week… and a third option is OBOT, or office based opioid treatment. This is for stable patients visiting monthly. That runs at $200 per month. McGuire knows those treatments are a struggle for some to afford. She and many others think funding is key. 

“I think we, as a nation, need to address that there needs to be better options for payment for people,” McGuire notes.

“Only about 10% of people with addiction are in treatment. It is vastly under-treated and that is part of the problem, the cost,” adds Elworth.

Twitty agrees.  “It would be great if there were significantly more funding for this to assist these folks.” 

Wednesday, (Feb. 7) KOLR10 talks with Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, who has filed a lawsuit against multiple opioid manufacturers. 


Cox Center for Addiction 1423 N Jefferson Ave, Springfield, MO (417) 269-2273

Burrell Behavioral Health Center 1300 E. Bradford Parkway 
Burrell Behavioral Health Crisis Line 417-761-5555
Behavioral Health Group – 2551 W Kearney St. Springfield, MO 417-210-6025
Behavioral Health Group – 404 E Battlefield Rd, Springfield, MO 417-865-8045
Behavioral Health Group – 1639 Bruce Smith Pkwy, West Plains, MO (417) 257-1833

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