R.O.A.D. to a better life…

ROAD3Dr. Michael J. O’Connell, New Hampshire began the Suboxone Clinic for opioid addicts at Pinewood Medical Center in 2004, mostly as a potential adjunct to his neighboring pain management facility.  Dr. O’Connell noted that they were seeing an increasing number of pain referrals from family doctors who were dependent on high dose and potent opioids.  Many PCPs were more boldly prescribing opioids for their patients around that time.  My fear was that these patients might be addicted and eventually require specific treatment for that.  Those concerns were largely unfounded.  Then and now, bona fide pain patients with real pathology account for less than 3% of all the addicts treated in our addiction clinic.  While addiction clearly has its victim in the clutches, nearly all dependent pain patients are able to slowly wean off opioids, without significant cravings, relapse or blatant drug seeking behavior.

At first, the clinic was treating mainly heroin addicts in the Suboxone Clinic, but soon, as prescription opioids became more plentiful and cheaper on the street, oxycodone, morphine and methadone addicts appeared for admission.  By 2008, prescription drug addicts outnumbered heroin users 2:1.  Between then and now however, as prescribers have become more cautious and conservative, street availability of pills has tightened, prices have risen and heroin is now the less expensive opioid of choice once again, by far.

It did not take long for us in the addiction clinic to understand that while Suboxone was a great drug with which to allay withdrawal and craving, it alone did not treat addictive behaviors.  Thus relapse was unfortunately common following several months of treatment.  We then added well trained therapists and counselors and onsite urine testing to the clinic, transforming it into a true program, and R.O.A.D. to a Better Life was born.  R.O.A.D (Recovery from Opioids, Alcohol and other Drugs) can boast of recidivism rates below 30% at the one year mark.  These figures are astounding for outpatient opioid addiction treatment programs.

In under five years, R.O.A.D. has grown from two facilities to now nine, scattered over the state of New Hampshire to better serve those in need.  In addition to Suboxone treatment, R.O.A.D. offers solo and extensive group therapies and intensive outpatient therapy (IOP).  Unlike most private addiction programs, R.O.A.D. accepts all patients with all insurance coverage (including Medicaid, which constitutes almost 40% of our patient population).


About Dr. Michael J. O'Connell, New Hampshire
Dr. Michael J. O'Connell of Barrington, New Hampshire, has forged a distinguished career spanning over three decades, as entrepreneur, physician, businessman, philanthropist and healthcare consultant. As former owner, administrator and CEO of a 225+ employee multi-specialty medical practice, Dr. O'Connell has dedicated his entire professional life to helping patients with family medicine and especially those experiencing chronic pain and all aspects of addiction. Since selling his family of healthcare businesses, he has never once contemplated retirement despite his rich and fulfilling journey, but instead has turned his focus to consulting in an industry starved for courage and creativity. Having weathered many political, technological and legal challenges, there is hardly a storm he has not confronted, a tempest he has not quelled, an urgent need he has not met. While the talking heads and self-proclaimed experts in the field have assumed the conventions and standards of the times, Dr. O'Connell does not believe in merely reflecting the herd mentality, but rather in leading the charge. Eschewing political correctness, Dr. O'Connell says and does what needs saying and doing, and not what the mindless masses expect. In addition to the continual education afforded by his variegated life experiences, Dr O'Connell earned his BS in Biochemistry at the University of NH in 1975, his Medical Degree from Dartmouth College in 1981, interned at Walter Reed Medical Center in 1982, Residency/Fellowship at UCSF in1986, and finished his Masters in Healthcare Administration at UNH in 1995. Dr. O’Connell enjoys many outdoor activities, including rock climbing, snowboarding, hiking, and golf. Through the decades Dr. O'Connell has supported many non-profit charities to include the St. Charles Home in Rochester NH, the Tri City VNA and Hospice, Hyder House, and Cocheco Valley Humane Society. To the latter organization alone Dr. O'Connell has donated over $180,000 and pledged another $250,000 in the “Bring-Us-Home” campaign for a new building. His “Matching Donations Christmas drive” has generated over $175,000 in charitable giving from the community. In addition Dr. O'Connell has participated in many dozens of other volunteer and donation efforts locally as well as in Africa and the Dominican Republic. For a listing of how I gave back to the community during my career and continue to do see: https://michaeloconnellmdnh.wordpress.com/

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