March 2019


history of substance use that goes back to their earliest use,” he explains. For some with severe alcohol abuse, the first exposure could have been as young as 8 years old. However, Dr. Parish was quick to point out that early experimentation doesn’t necessarily put you on a pathway to addiction. Instead, it is likely adverse childhood experiences that play the most significant role. “Studies have shown that secondary factors like external life situations and stressful events are predictive to developing an addiction,” he adds. “Those external factors can lead you to continued use of a substance, despite negative connotations.” Dr. Parish says that some patients have described addiction as their brain being hijacked by the substance that they crave. Also, the makeup of the human brain plays an important role in the formation of addiction, adds Dr. Parish. “There are different pathways that genetically makes someone more prone to developing a substance use disorder — and they are different for cocaine, alcohol, opioids and nicotine.” Even if there was a genetic screening that would reveal our predisposition toward abusing a substance, he doesn’t believe

it would change society’s approach to treatment. In order to combat substance abuse effectively, “we need to have open conversations and screening tools that we actually pay attention to,” he says. Recognizing that real success depends upon long-term care, Dr. Parish stresses the importance of ongoing monitoring as a component of any substance abuse treatment plan. “Most people experience five to eight relapses before finding sustained sobriety. We need to get people back in treatment really quickly if they relapse.” Dr. Parish personally has seen what effective substance abuse treatment can do for a community, while serving as chief medical officer for a community health center in Nashville, Tenn. The health center offered treatment and support to a large population of intravenous heroin users, says Dr. Parish. “We saw people’s lives change; saw people’s lives turn around in amazing ways. Families were back together,” he recounts. Now, Dr. Parish looks forward to bringing that same sense of hope and recovery to the newly established addiction support and treatment services at NCH. “We offer a safe non-judgmental environment. We offer hope. There is a chance for recovery.”

Medicine physician, Samuel Parish, MD, looks at addiction a bit differently than many other medical professionals. He sees addiction as a brain disorder

that requires a systematic approach to treatment — treatment that is both long-term and ongoing. In his practice, Dr. Parish commonly sees patients with addiction to alcohol and/ or tobacco, but regularly treats addiction to prescribed opioids, heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamines, and cannabis. Although these addictions are different, one thing is clear in all cases, “the substance is in control,” says Dr. Parish, adding that he rarely sees someone with just one substance abuse disorder. Addiction to multiple substances makes treatment even more challenging. In the early stages of treatment, Dr. Parish says he must first identify when substance use evolved from experimental use, or a low-risk use, to an uncontrollable problem – and why. “Our approach is to get a complete Dr. Samuel Parish

Dr. Samuel Parish’s offices are located at 800 Goodlette-Frank Rd. Suite 310, Naples. For more information, or to make an appointment, call 239-624-0870.

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