Dr. Anthony Smith wants to change the conversation around addiction


This Marion doctor wants to change the conversation around addiction

Mitch Hooper Marion Star USA TODAY NETWORK ‘If you were depressed, you’d get on some sort of medication and you do counseling for that. We don’t look at that as a bad thing, right?’ said Doctor Anthony Smith.

That’s how Smith, a doctor at MATR Ohio in Marion who specializes in addiction counseling, wants the conversation to change regarding addiction. For him, people struggling with addiction aren’t the drug addicts we see on television or in movies, they are people fighting mental health issues and found unfortunate ways to self-medicate.

He wants to address this issue at the root. And at his addiction clinic, they are doing just that through Suboxone and Zubsolv therapy for people battling opioid addictions.

Smith got his start in medicine after graduating from Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2005 followed by an internship with Duke University in 2006 and completing his residency in 2009 with St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center Emergency Medicine. While doing this, Smith spent much of his time inside emergency rooms and at the time, a majority of the patients were in there due to accidental overdoses.

The high volume of accidental overdoses caught his eye and he knew he wanted to be a part of the change in the coming years. And as someone who started his career in medicine in the early 2000s, he said he was a first-hand witness to ever changing stages of this crisis.

He said what really kicked off the opioid crisis in America was when patients would fill out satisfaction surveys regarding the service they received from a doctor. It quickly became a slippery slope as negative reviews against doctors could cost them money and a job resulting in doctors taking extra steps to mitigate pain through medication. Soon, addicts were gaming the system; if they claimed they were experiencing pain, doctors would prescribe them pain killers that were typically opioids.

This continued to snowball into other problems. For about six years, those looking to stockpile prescription pills would visit multiple doctors to receive medication. Eventually, many of these people began selling these pills on the streets as a way to make money. As Smith said, one Percocet pill could be sold on the streets for $15. If you had 100 pills, that could quickly become $1,500 which could be used to cover bills, or buy different drugs.

And then suddenly, the government cracked down on the over-prescribing of pills. This created a vacuum effect with those relying on illegal drug dealers to get drugs now struggling to do so as well as those same drug dealers losing a reliable, yet illegal, source of income. This is when Smith believes heroin and fentanyl became the popular drug of choice as they were cheaper, easier to find and didn’t require a prescription from a doctor.

Since then, Smith and his team of physicians at MATR in Marion as well as Reynoldsburg have been on the front lines of the addiction crisis. While the Reynoldsburg location frequently sees people seeking to recover, he said the volume at the Marion location is exceptionally higher.

Last year,

Marion saw more fatal and non-fatal overdoses than years past , a trend that has stayed consistent most years. There were many factors that Smith believes led to this; isolation due to shelter-in-place, a lack in traffic stops due to COVID-19 restrictions on law enforcement and the relative ease of finding these drugs.

Of these drugs, fentanyl, has grown as the biggest contributor to his new patients, he said, and most of the time these users don’t even realize they had taken the drug. His lab is able to pinpoint the exact drug a user has taken through various testing. Though some users thought they were just doing heroin or smoking marijuana, often these two drugs were laced with the deadly fentanyl.

That’s where Suboxone and Zubsolv come into play for his addiction clinic. Similar to a diabetic taking insulin for their condition, Smith likens these prescriptions to that.

‘They’re addiction is two things: one is an opportunity that happened to them,’ he explained. ‘And two, they had the actual biochemistry – the chemical makeup in their brain – that latched on to this. It was a chemistry thing for them.’

In another comparison, he said this was just like nicotine. While some people are able to socially smoke cigarettes and cigars without becoming addicted, others quickly become a pack-a-day smokers.

In short, Soboxone and Zubsolv are a combination of naloxone and buprenorphine which impact receptors in the brain and provides relief from symptoms of withdrawals and cravings for opioid users. Though these two drugs are partially an opioid, they are known as ‘agonist’ as they do not get the user high and they counteract the negative effects of opioid use.

Since opening the addiction clinic, Smith said roughly 75% of his patients who entered for recovery have become sober thanks to the Soboxone therapy as well as one-on-one and group counseling. These are his favorite stories, with most people being able to secure jobs, maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep a roof over their heads.

And there’s another reason his patients continue coming back to his clinic; his dog Blanche, which has become something akin to an emotional support dog for those in addiction recovery. He joked that sometimes his patients are more excited to see Blanche than they are to meet with him, but that’s OK in his mind. The important thing is they keep coming back and continue to become healthier.

In the future, Smith wants to see more changes happen around addiction and recovery; especially how law enforcement and sentencing is conducted around these crimes. Since some of his patients have been incarcerated for drug crimes, he said jail and prison sentencing doesn’t always solve the problem. Sometimes it makes it even worse as some users report getting illegal drugs inside these institutions is easier than getting them on the streets.

When they get out, their criminal record makes it more difficult to get a job. It turns into a vicious cycle.

(740)-244-9935 bhooper@gannett.com

Smith Photo submitted.

Blanche, Dr. Anthony Smith’s dog, has become a popular character for his patients at MATR Ohio, an addiction clinic in Marion and Reynoldsburg specializing in opioid addiction.

Dr. Anthony Smith wants to change the conversation around addiction2021-03-16T16:58:13+00:00

Covid Update

We at MATRx continue to follow state guidelines for Covid-19 risk mitigation.
Please always bring and wear your mask in the office as you have been. If you don’t have
access to a mask, please ask us and we will provide you with one. The vaccinations are
underway in Ohio. I, Dr Smith, am fully vaccinated against Covid-19. I do recommend all of
my patients receive the vaccine for their own personal health and to help protect those around
you. If you have any questions for me please ask at your next visit or give our office a call. If
you are sick or showing signs or symptoms of Covid-19 or currently in quarantine, please notify
us so we can coordinate a Telehealth visit with you. It is our utmost priority to protect each and
every one of you. By doing just that, we also protect your loved ones and friends.
As 2021 is now underway, we continue to garner great results and improvements with all of our
patients in opiate recovery. Suboxone treatment has saved so many lives especially during a
time when our opiate overdose deaths in Ohio saw an uptick in cases during the pandemic. We
continue to serve central Ohio, Northwest Ohio, Northern Ohio, and the greater Marion and
Columbus communities. If you or a friend is suffering from Percocet, Norco, Oxycodone,
heroin, or fentanyl addiction please reach out to us for help and guidance. We are proud to be
a leading opiate recovery center in Reynoldsburg and Marion, Ohio.

Covid Update2021-01-15T19:27:28+00:00

A Look at Opioid Overdose

We at MATRx are hoping everyone is staying safe from COVID-19 and following all the state guidelines for not only your safety but safety for others around us. We have faced our first pandemic like this in many years. This is all new to everyone and has caused a lot of stress & anxiety. This is a time where we can see a surge in heroin overdose, heroin abuse, and other opiate medication abuse. Stressful times can lead to opiate relapse or other drug addiction problems. I wanted to take this time to present some statistics on opiate overdose. 

WHO Individuals who have overdosed & needed to receive naloxone prior to ER visit

A recent study was published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine in regards to how people who have overdosed and received naloxone (Narcan) outside of the hospital. It could have been given by EMS or even a family member or friend. Some of you reading this may have personally experienced this in which a family member or friend nearly died from heroin overdose or fentanyl abuse. 

WHAT A look into how these people did over the next year after overdosing with fentanyl, heroin, or any opiate overdose. 

It was reported from this study these people have an extremely high death rate during this one year period after overdosing. In fact, they have a 13% increase rate of death as compared to the general population over the next year. This is extremely high and alarming and is the reason why it’s important for these patients to receive the appropriate treatment after the overdose. Treatment consists of buprenorphine therapy (Suboxone therapy) in addition to peer support groups, counseling, or rehabilitation programs. 

WHY It’s important to discover who is at high risk of death in our community and understand the consequences after an opiate overdose. From that, it’s important to discover methods to prevent death. 

At MATRx, we utilize true statistics to understand and develop treatment methods for all of our patients. Through buprenorphine (Suboxone or Zubsolv) therapy, we have made a huge step in helping the central Ohio opiate epidemic. From this study, we can understand and learn who is at highest risk of relapse and death and target these patients at our clinic to intensify treatment. 

We are currently seeing patients at our Marion and Reynoldsburg locations serving central Ohio, Northwest Ohio, Northern Ohio, and Southern Ohio. We provide counseling & Suboxone and Zubsolv therapy and peer group programs for your opiate addiction. 

A Look at Opioid Overdose2020-05-14T19:09:41+00:00

2019 Year in Review for MATRx

2019 Year in Review for MATRx So 2019 is about to come to an end. That was quick!! It definitely goes faster each year as we get older. It was a great year for us at MATRx and for our patients. I can say that our patients are the absolute best. They are fighting and winning over their opiate addiction.

It’s a success on all levels. I can’t stress enough to obtain help with your opiate/pain/heroin addiction. Both of our office locations in Reynoldsburg/Columbus and Marion have achieved superior success with opiate and heroin addiction with our Suboxone program. Even better than last year! At Matrx, we have strived to create a very comfortable environment and it has shown. More people are joining our team each day. The central Ohio opiate and heroin addiction is at an all time high, and we are at our all time level of opiate addiction success. All of our patients have put a lot of effort into their Suboxone therapy through consistent office visits with myself and through their counseling and peer support groups. Opiate and heroin addiction takes a village and can’t be done alone. Our patients understand and love our atmosphere at MATRx. We spend time with our patients. Everyone is treated with respect and we work diligently with all of them to obtain great outcomes.

As the holidays fast approach, it can be a very stressful time for patients. Family issues, money issues can set people back. It is important to stay in touch with your friends who may be struggling with heroin and opiate addiction. We have encouraged all of our patients to reach out to one another during this time of year especially. They have become friends and each work together to help one another. I feel that sets us apart from many other Suboxone treatment centers.

We had a great year. We encourage anyone in Columbus, Reynoldsburg, Delaware, Marion, Bellefontaine, Portsmouth, Dayton, Lima, Mansfield, Zanesville, Toledo or any location in Ohio to reach out to us for help. We have great counseling and caring physicians to help you. Suboxone treatment at MATRx has proven statistically successful. You too can join our team and be on your way to success to overcome your opiate addiction. Here’s looking forward to 2020.

Sincerely, Dr Anthony Smith

2019 Year in Review for MATRx2019-11-16T03:12:58+00:00

Top 3 Reasons why Suboxone Changes Lives

One of the biggest and most frequent questions I get as a doctor is why Suboxone? Why are you substituting one addiction for another? Well, that’s a good question! I’ll explain.

Heroin and opiate addiction is a big deal. If you don’t know…now you do. It’s in the media. Local media. National media. It’s talked about at church, the grocery store, the bank, and behind the scenes by those who are suffering from the addiction and by those who are casting judgment on those with opiate addiction. Bottom line, it’s a big deal. Its estimated that use of Suboxone (buprenorphine Naloxone) in medication-assisted therapy decreases the chance of fatal overdoses by over 50%. Just in 2017, Ohio had the second highest rate of drug overdose deaths with opiates in the entire United States. Over 4,000 people died that year with an overdose (https://www.drugabuse.gov/opioid-summaries-by-state/ohio-opioid-summary). At my clinic, MATRx, we strive to increase awareness that opiate addiction can be overcome and that everyone can live a normal life. Our patients are a true success story and a great example of people here in central Ohio beating opiate addiction.

Addiction is real. For instance, some people struggle with alcohol. Food addiction is one of the most difficult addictions of all. Nicotine addiction. Other controlled substance addiction. I think the main understanding we all need is to know the power of addiction. All of our brains are chemically and genetically different. Some of us are more prone to developing addictions than others. And that is ok. Whether you have been around the influencing crowd with peer pressure or if you suffered from a medical problem requiring pain medication like morphine, oxycodone, oxycontin…the possibility of becoming addicted to these medications in the brain is possible. These addictions can be devastating resulting in death. So here is where Suboxone therapy or Zubsolv therapy come into play.

1) Suboxone saves lives. Buprenorphine not only changes lives…it saves lives. It helps prevent death. This is reason #1. It helps prevent overdose of opiates. It stops the opiate cravings and allows people to carry on normal lives. It binds to the receptors in the brain differently than heroin or other opiates. It has a stronger ability to bind to these certain receptors. This helps stop the withdrawal symptoms one would experience if not taking the medicine and predisposing to overdose. Simply put, Suboxone helps you decrease the want or desire of the heroin or oxycontin.

2) Suboxone stabilizes your life. After starting therapy, you learn how to balance and stabilize your thoughts and actions. Your brain starts to change. The receptors in your brain start are now changing for the good. The old, destructive routines of your opiate addiction start to go away. You take your medication and you have the chance to llive your normal life now. Just as a diabetic takes medications for their sugar regulation or people take medicine for their heart…you take a medication that helps you live a normal life and decreases your cravings to take opiates. You no longer are controlled by the opiates. You are back in charge of your own life!

3) Suboxone helps to set you up for success. Now that you are stabilized on the medication you have opened yourself up to new opportunities of which you didn’t feel were possible. A lot of my patients are doing extremely well that they are retaining good jobs, saving money, rebuilding family and friend relationships. For example, a patient has been doing so well on her medication that she has now saved up enough money and has upgraded to a better apartment and purchased a car. The money she was spending to obtain opiates off the streets was astounding. Sometimes it was up over $1000 a week. Work is no longer sporadic. Work retention and being able to stay on task with your job is now happening. You are able to get your life back.

Addictions don’t go away over night and some not at all. It’s how you deal with your addictions that determines your success. If someone told you that you could take a daily medicine to help you overcome your pain medication or heroin addiction….why wouldn’t you do it? Suboxone simply helps you along your journey to opiate recovery. That’s what we are here for. We also offer alternatives to Suboxone brand name medication. We offer Zubsolv and generic forms of buprenorphine/naloxone in tablet and film formulations.

Our two offices are located in Marion, Ohio and Reynoldsburg, Ohio. We serve a large portion of central Ohio opiate addiction treatment problems. Feel free to check out our website www.matrohio.com . For some additional reading on opiate addiction recovery check out https://store.samhsa.gov/system/files/sma14-4126.pdf

Top 3 Reasons why Suboxone Changes Lives2019-07-03T17:23:35+00:00