Treating Addiction As A Medical Disease


The Avera Addiction Care Center broke ground this summer.  By the end of 2019, the $8 million facility will be the first stand-alone residential treatment center on a health care campus in South Dakota. The Avera on Louise Campus, at $174 million, is the largest building project in Sioux Falls history.

Along with the state-of-the art surgery, genetic testing and sports medicine, two buildings will be dedicated to the treatment of addiction. 

The groundbreaking for the 32-bed facility within the medical campus is a step toward changing the perception of addiction. 

“We still haven’t embraced the idea and understanding that addiction is a medical disease,” Dr. Matt Stanley said. 

Stanley says that applies to patients too. 

“So, I’m not pointing to others–people with addictions–they think it’s a character flaw.  They’re afraid to come forward.  They think they just need to get over it. Well we don’t ask people to get over diabetes or other medical illnesses; they need help,” Stanley said

Avera’s new facility will be part of the Hazelden Betty Ford Patient Care Network and will have addictionologists on staff, doctors who specialize in addiction. Dr. Stanley says there is no single “right way” to treat substance use disorder. 

“Some people really utilize faith, and some people really need a strong peer support.  Some need medication intervention. Some will be enlightened by the use of genetic testing,” Stanley said

Addiction is also a chronic disease that must be managed over a lifetime.  Avera plans to offer follow-ups and after-care once patients leave the 28-day program. 

“We know that up to a year, or longer, the brain is still recovering its normal function,” Stanley said

Stanley stresses the urgency of education and early intervention. 

“We’re seeing our youngest, our best and our brightest, damaged–dying. We have to respond to this. And I truly think we have the power to do treatment now. But one of the things that is holding us back is our perspective of this, our viewpoint of this; the biases we bring into this issue. I believe that has to resolve for us to move forward,” Stanley said

Insurance co-pays can be extremely high when it comes to in-patient treatment and some people don’t have insurance. 

That’s where Emily’s Hope comes in. I have set up a fund in my daughter’s name to help offset the cost of treatment through the Avera McKennan Foundation. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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