MERRILLVILLE — A new outpatient drug treatment center for opioid addicts recently opened its doors in Northwest Indiana.

CleanSlate Centers, a Massachusetts-based rehab company, started the clinic last week at 8645 Connecticut St. in Merrillville.

The facility prescribes buprenorphine, often known by the brand-name Suboxone, and extended-release naltrexone, or Vivitrol, to help people overcome dependence on heroin and opioid painkillers like Oxycontin and Percocet.

“We understand addiction is a chronic brain disease and needs to be treated like other chronic diseases,” said Dr. Kelly Clarke, chief medical officer for CleanSlate Centers. “We know buprenorphine or Suboxone and methadone have some of the best outcomes in all of medicine for treatment of any kind of disease.”

Medication-assisted treatment has been found to have lower relapse rates than traditional 12-step, abstinence rehab, and allows addicts to continue working or going to school during therapy.

Buprenorphine is given to opioid addicts once they’ve started to withdrawal to relieve those symptoms and reduce cravings for and block the euphoric effects of opioids.

Vivitrol is an injection, which lasts for 30 days, given to an addict after they’ve detoxed and also lessens cravings and thwarts the high of the drug. CleanSlate does not dispense methadone.

The United States is facing an opioid overdose epidemic, with an estimated 78 Americans dying every day from the drug, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Opioid overdose deaths also have risen in Lake and Porter counties in recent years.

“More Americans now die from an unintentional overdose than die from a car accident,” Clarke noted. “We have over three people an hour dying from an overdose.”

But as the opioid abuse crisis has exploded, the number of treatment facilities has not been able to meet the demand. CleanSlate saw a particular need in Northwest Indiana, and decided to open its 16th center overall, and second in Indiana, in the Region.

CleanSlate currently accepts patients who have Indiana Medicaid through Managed Health Services, or MHS, and is in discussion with the state’s two other Medicaid managed-care companies, Anthem and MDWise. The center also provides psycho-social counseling and group medical visits, and can refer patients to other providers in the community if they need a higher level of care.

For more information, contact the center at (219) 525-3495.

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Giles is the health reporter for The Times, covering the business of health care as well as consumer and public health. He previously wrote about health for the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.