New drug treatment, mental health resource opens in Bellevue

May 2, 2019, 10:53 AM
Bellevue Betty Ford Hazelden...
(Hazelden Betty Ford, Bellevue)
(Hazelden Betty Ford, Bellevue)

The Hazelden Betty Ford Clinic opened in Bellevue last week, hosting its ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday.

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Heidi Wallace is the non-profit’s Executive Director for the Pacific Northwest, which until now has included just two facilities in Oregon. The Bellevue-based facility will be the first Washington location, and Wallace says it will make a difference in our state.

“Access is such a problem to treatment in the Pacific Northwest, so for us to come into the community and bring more treatment, it allows for more access — (Washington and Oregon) are rated two of the worst states in the country for people accessing treatment,” said Wallace. “But what we’re also providing is not just substance use treatment, but mental health services as well.”

That opioid treatment program she’s talking about is a big deal, not just because it is successful, but because it includes medication assisted treatment with drugs like Suboxone, to help curb cravings, and help people get off — and stay off — opioids.

It’s something the state, cities, and counties have been working hard to expand across Washington, and this new center in Bellevue will certainly help. Beyond that, Wallace says their approach is different than some treatment centers.

“Sometimes you’ll call a treatment provider, and they either provide just the Suboxone, which works if somebody’s just looking for those medication assisted therapies to help with opiate use disorder,” Wallace explained. “For some people, it’s doing the abstinence-based model without the medication and they’re just doing the treatment, and what we offer is both.”

She says taking a holistic approach is really what helps people stick to their guns and stay off drugs.

“What makes us different too, is that we’re treating the mental health disorder as well,” Wallace continued. “So many substance-use treatment centers may just treat the substance use, but we’re treating both the substance use and mental health.”

According to Wallace, their substance abuse treatment programs are not just about opioids.

In fact, most of the calls to their facilities across the country are for a different drug.

“Actually, more than 60 percent of the individuals seeking our treatment are alcohol-use disorder(s). It’s a slow killer for many people, as opposed to opiate use disorder [that] can kill so fast,” Wallace said.

She says alcohol abuse hasn’t slowed down at all, and that the biggest concern involves a specific, vulnerable demographic.

“[Middle aged] women are way on the increase in terms of alcohol use disorder, and it’s very specifically college-educated Caucasian females. As a result, we’re seeing more people seeking treatment, and women needing services and dying (from) this disease,” Wallace said.

The facility will have treatment options for alcohol, opioids, and more, along with mental health treatment both with or without a combined drug treatment.

It also has an early intervention program for anyone between the ages 13 and 24. In addition, it will help educate local treatment facilities, hospitals, and doctors who are faced with treating drug addiction.

“We’ve only been open a week and a half, and … our phones are ringing, and we’ve got patients and clients coming in every single day — the demand is there, and that’s not typical when you go into a brand new market. It’s because we partnered with the local employers. The local employers and local insurance companies said ‘we need you guys here, you guys have been around for 70 years,'” Wallace said.

“We haven’t been around for 70 years because we’re just getting by, it’s because we’re — I believe — the best, and we’re providing that service. People wanted that in this area,” she added.

The clinic has varying levels of outpatient treatment available, and refers those in need of residential treatment to one of its Oregon facilities.

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New drug treatment, mental health resource opens in Bellevue