University of Toledo Medical Center opens Toledo’s first detox center

Bryce Buyakie, Associate News Editor

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The University of Toledo Medical Center recently opened Toledo’s first 10-bed detoxification unit in response to the growing opiate addiction epidemic the city is facing.

Dr. Tanvir Singh, the unit’s medical director and a physician at UTMC, said the unit will help patients addicted to opioids, benzodiazepines and alcohol make the first step toward an addiction-free life.

“Detox is getting the patients to medically survive the withdrawal symptoms of the drug,” said Dan Barbee, CEO of UTMC. “We medically stabilize the drug coming off your system. This is the very first step in medical rehabilitation. We aren’t just going to dry you up and send you onto the streets.”

Once discharged, the patient is required to enter an outpatient therapy program in the Toledo area to continue rehabilitation and sobriety. Dr. Singh said that UTMC will be working with outpatient programs including Harbor, Renewed Minds and Unison.

According to Dr. Singh, the goal of the unit is to ensure patients survive withdrawal, teach patients and families about addiction and prevent the social and self-stigmatization of addiction.

“Social stigma plays a role, but it’s not only other people’s perception, it’s your own perception as well,” Dr. Singh said. “That’s one reason why many functional people suffering from drug use are reluctant to seek treatment… A lot of effort has gone into reducing the stigma like education and trying to involve the families more so they can understand the nature of drug abuse.”

Group therapy sessions and medical education are currently offered on the unit with plans to expand counseling and other services in the future to help combat this stigma, said Lea Preston, a nurse working on the detox unit.

Dr. Singh did not give a timeframe, but he did say that the detox unit will include a psychiatry service, a medical service through the internal medicine family practice and a psychology service for patients.

“The actual unit has the ability to expand up to 20 beds,” Barbee said. “We are starting with 10 beds, but have the space to expand if necessary. If we have 30 patients, we’ll figure it out.”

Barbee said this unit is about rehabilitating patients and having less opiate use and less opiate deaths in Toledo.

“This is not a singular disease. This disease affects everyone the patient comes in contact with,” Preston said, “so I believe it is very important to work with patients to help them get their lives back on track. Not only for the patient, but for the patient’s spouse and children.”

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University of Toledo Medical Center opens Toledo’s first detox center