Addiction treatment offered in Homer, Ninilchik

Dr. Sarah Spencer of South Peninsula Hospital is now accepting referrals for the treatment of addiction to prescription pain pills or heroin, the hospital announced this week in a press release. 

Dr. Spencer, a South Peninsula Hospital medical staff member, is currently the only provider in the Homer area offering addiction medicine treatment for patients, said hospital spokesperson Derotha Ferraro.

Dr. Spencer provides this service in direct response to community need. A 2009 health assessment showed substance abuse to be a primary concern and health problem in the Homer area. About 2 million people in the United States suffer from substance abuse disorders from prescription painkillers, and about 500,000 people are addicted to heroin. Overdose deaths from prescription painkillers have quadrupled in the past 15 years, and now kill more people than automobile accidents. Only about 20 percent of addicts get medical care for their addiction, Ferraro said.

Dr. Spencer offers medication-assisted treatment of opioid addiction, which combines prescription medications along with substance abuse counseling, and treatment of other co-existing medical problems such as depression and HIV or hepatitis C infection.

“Integrating drug treatment into health care settings offers comprehensive treatment services for opioid addiction, and has been proven to be much more effective than counseling alone,” Dr. Spencer said.

Dr. Spencer provided addiction treatment services to patients while working at the Providence Valdez Medical Center from 2009–2013. She attended medical school at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, and is certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Family Physicians.

She has worked on the lower Kenai Peninsula since November 2013, and currently accepts new patients for this program at Homer Medical Center and Ninilchik Community Clinic. Informational packets and applications for the program may be obtained from either clinic. For more information contact Homer Medical Center at 235-8586 or Ninilchik Community Clinic at 907-567-3970.