One medical facility is already feeling the fallout from the suspension, announced Tuesday, of a Durango doctor’s medical license.
Southern Rockies Addiction Treatment Services fielded multiple calls Thursday from patients who received prescriptions from Dr. Deborah Parr for assistance with substance addiction, said Sara Carver, director of clinical operations for the organization. “We started getting calls from her clients saying: ‘Oh my gosh, my doctor lost her license, and I need my medication. Can you help me?’”
Parr, a psychiatrist, is one of four doctors in Colorado whose license was suspended for allegedly recommending higher-than-normal marijuana plant counts to hundreds of patients. But those clients represent only a part of her practice, Carver said.
“Losing her medical license, even temporarily, means the addiction-treatment clients she sees are suddenly without their medication,” Carver said.
Unlike patients who were prescribed marijuana, there is not a readily available alternative to substance-abuse patients’ prescribed medications such as Suboxone, which is used to treat narcotic addictions, she said.
Carver also expressed concern about Parr’s history of prescribing opiate-based medications to individuals with histories of substance abuse.
“We are bracing ourselves for more inquiries today (Thursday), and fear that her questionable prescribing practices spill over into her prescribing practices in addiction treatment as well,” Carver said.
Southern Rockies Addiction Treatment, which treats about 100 clients, is booking intake sessions through next week to try to accommodate the increased call volume from Parr’s patients, said Daniel Caplin, the physician who runs the practice.
While Caplin’s practice is experiencing the brunt of the calls, there is potential that the emergency room at Mercy Regional Medical Center and detox of La Plata County also could be affected if individuals’ prescriptions lapse from not contacting a physician, he said.
La Plata County residents should be aware of issues surrounding substance abuse, said Stephanie Allred, senior director of clinical services for Axis Health.
“It’s a problem everywhere, and when people have mental health conditions, there are a lot of people who have co-occurring substance-abuse disorders,” Allred said.
When mental health conditions are not addressed, there is a tendency for self-medication, which can serve as the basis for a substance-abuse disorder or lead to relapsing.
To help individuals who are experiencing a substance-abuse crisis, Axis Health, which runs the detox center, offers a 24-hour hotline, said Sarada Leavenworth, senior director of strategy development and communications. “It can be critical for folks to have a way to reach someone who’s specialized in these questions and can supply support.”
Axis’ 24-hour hotline can be reached at 247-5245.
Luke Perkins is a student at Fort Lewis College and an intern at The Durango Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.