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Duffy Uses Grant for New Teen Treatment Program

Local teens struggling with opiate addiction will soon be able to get access to medical treatments like Suboxone on the Cape. 

The Hyannis-based Duffy Health Center will use a 100-thousand-dollar federal grant to begin what’s called a medication-assisted treatment program designed for 16- and 17-year-olds.

These programs use drugs like Suboxone and Vivitrol, which reduce withdrawal symptoms from opiate addiction. Executive Director Heidi Nelson says until now, families have had to go off-Cape for treatment.

"Families who want to try this approach to treatment will actually be able to come here and receive services here rather than go all the way to Boston," Nelson said.

The Health Center has used Suboxone in adult treatment programs for a decade. Duffy’s primary mission is to work with the homeless and those at-risk for becoming homeless. Nelson says teens are especially vulnerable to opiate addiction, and addiction often leads to homelessness. 

"This is a new population for us, so we need someone who is specifically working on that," she said. "And we’ll be connecting with treatment providers in the community, with pediatrician offices, with schools and with parents to figure out the best way we can get people in."

She says the treatment is integrated with mental health services. Clients also have to be drug and alcohol free when in the program. 

"We are a very forgiving program; people who fall off the wagon are given second chances," she said. "But the idea is that people are supposed to be working toward being substance free." 

Nelson says they will start accepting new patients for the teen program in the spring.