Drug treatment center in Scottsdale takes unique approach for fentanyl detox

The opioid epidemic in Arizona, and across the country, is killing thousands of people every year, and a medical center in Scottsdale is hoping to help people overcome addiction or detox from drug use with a unique approach.

The use of opiates, especially fentanyl, can be deadly.

"If you take a sugar packet, that amount could kill six adults," explained John Gossett, the clinical director with Gallus Medical Detox Center.

He says fentanyl is a drug nearly half of the center’s patients are battling to detox from.

MORE: More than 8 million fentanyl pills seized in Arizona during nationwide operation

"We are a six-bed facility. If we were to see six people come in, usually three or four of those are opiate-use people," he explained.

Leslie Hardy, the director of nursing at the center, says their treatment is unique in a few ways.

"We have a short seven-day stay for opiate and sentinel patients. We use certain protocols so that they don’t get sick. The number one reason people don’t seek treatment is fear, fear of getting extremely ill," she explained.

When a patient arrives, the process moves quickly.

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"We do a quick 15-minute intake and as soon as they come in, they go into the room, and immediately, if they're a fentanyl patient, we start medicating," Hardy said. "A lot of the other detoxes wait 72 hours in. Patients get extremely ill, and they end up leaving."

The number one reason people don't seek treatment is the fear of a painful withdrawal.

"We lost 2,700 Arizonans to opiate overdoses and we had a 40% increase month to month of opiate overdoses," Gossett said.

A way to help combat those numbers could be a fentanyl test strip.

"This is a fentanyl testing strip. So this is another way of harm reduction," Hardy said.

You would mix some of the drug you're thinking of using with water – then test it.

MORE: Another infant tests positive for fentanyl in Phoenix, police say

"If it’s negative, it’ll be two strips," she said. "If it’s positive, it’ll be one."

If Gallus Medical Detox Center is not the right fit for you, the center will help you find the right place.