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At Bald Mountain Behavioral Medicine, individuals with addictions are able to receive effective treatment for their illness. John Kitzmiller, M.D. and his wife, Diana, founded the clinic in 2013 to serve as a private outpatient therapeutic resource for children, adolescents, adults, couples and families.
Dr. Kitzmiller’s knowledge of addiction is both professional and personal. Practicing as a Vascular Surgeon for more than 25 years, he left his position a decade ago due to chronic pain incurred from thousands of hours on his feet.
Following his tenth back surgery, he found himself addicted to opiates. He spent four months in rehab for detoxification, took time to reflect on what was important to him, and ultimately, went back to school for a Master’s degree in Psychology.
It was at the Michigan School of Professional Psychology where he met his wife, a clinical psychologist, and the two dared to dream of a way to better help those with addictions. Bald Mountain Behavioral Medicine in Lake Orion is the realization of that dream.
“The definition of addiction in medical literature is that it is a lifelong disease of the brain. It’s how we deal with it that we are able to achieve years of sobriety,” says Dr. Kitzmiller. “I know firsthand about addiction, and I have no problem that others know about it. It makes patients more able to relate. I’m not judgmental, and I know the struggle.”
Often, by the time patients reach Dr. Kitzmiller, they have nothing. They have lost their job, their families have lost their patience, and still the chronic pain and substance abuse continues. With proper treatment, Dr. Kitzmiller says a vast majority are back to leading a normal life within a year.
One of his first patients was a homeless, toothless teenage heroin addict who owed money to dealers. With buprenorphine, or Suboxone treatment, within three months the teen was able to pay off the dealers, move to a new place, and find a dental program to help him obtain new teeth. In a year’s time, he was sober and had hope for the future.
Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) using mild forms of opiates such as Suboxone coupled with behavioral counseling has proven to be one of the best and most effective treatments for long-lasting results. It works by eliminating the symptoms of withdrawal and reduces cravings.
“It is a game-changer and a life-saver,” says Dr. Kitzmiller. Yet it is not without its side effects, which is why only select physicians are granted a license to prescribe it.
Dr. Kitzmiller was helpful in expanding this treatment in the United States, and spoke before a U.S. Senate hearing in 2014. His testimony ultimately led to the ability for state-certified physicians who prescribe buprenorphine (Suboxone is a name brand) to increase the number of patients they treat from 100 to 275. Properly certified nurse practitioners working with a physician are also able to maintain a caseload of 100 patients annually. Dr. Kitzmiller says the need is even greater.
“Almost all of us have had a friend or family member with an addiction problem,” says Dr. Kitzmiller, who notes that his typical patient is not the teen heroin addict. “I see many older people who are 50 and over who have had hip or knee replacements, who took opiates for the pain, and are now dependent on them. They are living a miserable life totally dependent on when and how they will get their opiate fix that day.”
With decades of collective expertise in the fields of medicine and mental health, Dr. Kitzmiller and the staff of dedicated clinicians at Bald Mountain Behavioral Medicine offer treatment for clients experiencing difficulties with addiction and the associated issues that coexist such as depression, anxiety and shame.
The current caseload is about 80 percent addiction medicine, including helping patients overcome substance abuse of opiates, alcohol, and cocaine.
Of the other 20 percent, half are chronic pain patients who need proper pain management to avoid addiction, and the other 10 percent are patients in need of counseling for anxiety, depression, anger management, grief/loss, post-traumatic stress, attention deficit (ADHD) and hyperactivity, and behavioral and parenting issues.
Bald Mountain Behavioral Medicine is dedicated to offering the latest, most-comprehensive treatments available. Its caring, experienced professionals specialize in psychotherapy, psychological assessment, substance abuse, Suboxone therapy and pain management.
By developing a therapeutic relationship based on communication, and in many cases, Medicine Assisted Treatment, patients learn to overcome problematic thoughts, behaviors and addictions.