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Welcome back to our series showcasing the success of Caz’s Medication Reduction Program! Through our dedicated efforts, we have helped our residents reduce unnecessary prescriptions and improve their quality of life. In this edition, we are thrilled to share success stories of the types of medications that we have successfully reduced or eliminated from some residents’ daily prescription regimens. Let’s delve into these inspiring transformations and explore how our program makes a positive difference.

Eliminating Antipsychotics for a Better Night’s Sleep

Many of our residents were previously prescribed antipsychotics for sleep, even though they didn’t have psychotic disorders, and while this is a common off-label use for these medications, it is not meant to be a long-term solution. These medications, often given for their sedative effects, can lead to severe side effects. Debra Cannon, Cazenovia Manor Program Manager, highlighted the importance of education in this process. “We introduced a sleep app to help residents understand their sleep patterns better and reduce their reliance on medications. It’s about creating a restful space and making informed choices about their health.” One resident shared his experience, “I used to think more medication was better, but now I understand that improving my sleep hygiene and using mindfulness techniques helps me sleep just as well without the risks.”

Cazenovia Manor in South Buffalo
Cazenovia Manor in South Buffalo

Reducing Gabapentin

Gabapentin, commonly prescribed off-label for neuropathic pain, anxiety, insomnia, and substance use disorders; has been a significant focus of our reduction efforts. Many residents have reported remarkable improvements after transitioning off this medication. One standout success story involves a long-time resident who had been on gabapentin for over a decade. “Gabapentin wasn’t just controlling his pain—it was causing his hands and legs to swell and making him feel mentally foggy,” recalled Jason Law, LPN at Cazenovia Manor. With the support of our program, the resident began a gradual dose reduction. “By the time he was off gabapentin, his swelling went away, his circulation improved, and he felt more mentally clear,” Jason shared. After discontinuing gabapentin, the pain he experienced stopped, likely because the medication had been causing swelling, vascular concerns, circulation issues, and sores on his feet. Now, this resident enjoys life with more energy and less discomfort. His experience exemplifies the potential benefits of reducing reliance on gabapentin, including decreased side effects and enhanced overall well-being. Stories like this remind us why we are committed to this program.

A New Way to Manage Anxiety without Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines, a controlled substance used to manage immediate anxiety symptoms, are another class of medications that residents have successfully reduced. These medications carry risks such as dependency and increased likelihood of developing dementia with long-term use. “Residents taking benzodiazepines for anxiety have benefited from gradual dose reductions and the incorporation of non-pharmacological interventions,” Jason noted. Techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), breathing exercises, and mindfulness have been instrumental in helping residents manage anxiety more effectively. One resident shared, “At first, I was hesitant, but now I feel so much better and more in control of my health.”

From Methadone to Suboxone

A notable number of residents have transitioned from Methadone to Suboxone or the monthly injectable medication Sublocade. This transition has provided them with greater freedom and stability. Methadone requires daily visits to a clinic, which can be burdensome. “We’ve been pretty successful in tapering guys off of methadone. We transition them to Suboxone for a while and then to Sublocade,” Jason explained. “This process has significantly reduced the daily burden of managing their medication and improved their quality of life.” Residents now have more freedom to travel and plan their lives without the constraints of daily clinic visits.

Education and Support: The Heart of Our Program

Our Medication Reduction Program’s success hinges on education and a collaborative approach. “By educating our residents on healthy lifestyles and the real effects of their medications, we empower them to make informed decisions,” Debra explained. Our staff is always ready to provide comprehensive support, ensuring residents understand their medications’ potential risks and benefits. This medication reduction initiative has created a supportive environment where residents feel confident in taking a closer look at their medication routines.

Looking Ahead

Moving forward, we plan to expand our efforts to reduce the use of several other medications, including certain nicotine replacements, antihistamines used for anxiety, and unnecessary blood pressure medications. We’re thrilled with our progress and are excited to continue supporting our residents in their journeys to better health. Our commitment to reducing medication dependency remains strong, and we’re dedicated to providing each resident with the best care possible. By addressing the issues associated with polypharmacy, we’re setting new standards in recovery care and proving that sometimes, less really is more.

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