Kicking Opioids

Cicero clinic offers alternative to traditional addiction treatment

By Stephanie Carlson Miller

As parents, we teach our children to fly out of the nest with unconditional love and visions of an amazing future, but the road ahead is unpredictable and sometimes is not what anyone expects. Aristotle Pappas’ tragic death from an overdose of prescription painkillers gave birth to an innovative life-saving business offering addicts a light of hope where there is darkness and despair. In the midst of his anguish, Ari’s father, Joe Pappas, searched for answers. “When I lost Ari, it became blatantly obvious to me that whatever treatment options we have available right now are not working, he says. “I didn’t intend to start a business. I just wanted to help people.”

Ari, a likable, energetic young man and stand-out athlete at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis went on to join the football team at Ball State University, but broke his hand during his freshman year, which ended his football career. At that time, Ari’s physician prescribed Oxycodone to relieve the pain of his injury. Over time, Ari’s father and family realized there was something wrong, noticed a change in his behavior, but never expected an addiction that would lead to his death at the age of 24.

“I’m not sure he ever got over how those opioids made him feel. Once you’re hooked on a drug, the scariest thing to do is think of coming off of it,” Pappas says. “In my research, I stumbled across NAD therapy. Working with a couple of doctors, we read, we studied, we talked and we finally got Dr. John Humiston, in San Diego, on the phone. We could not believe what he was telling us about the amazing results they were getting using NAD infusions.”

A Last Resort

The NAD protocol, founded by Dr. Humiston, is an alternative solution to mainstream medicine that helps restore damaged brain receptors to normal functioning so the patient can better control self-destructive behavior and fully participate in recovering. According to Dr. Humiston’s NeuroRecover™ website, “the treatment includes formulas of selected amino acids delivered intravenously that assist the nervous system in repairing receptors damaged by substance use, as well as by dopamine-damaging activities such a gambling, pornography and overwork.”

“A couple of months after Ari passed away, I attended a Christian retreat and met Joe Holman. His son was hooked on heroin, and after many treatment centers they had to make the difficult decision to put their son on the streets - he could not quit using and his behavior was disruptive to the family.” Heartbroken, Holman contacted Pappas.

“I said to Joe, I think we can help your son,” Pappas explains. “Greg Holman came in to my office, as truly a last resort. We treated Greg and were absolutely amazed at the results.”

The success of that first treatment led to the formation of Emerald Neuro-Recover Centers, the first clinic in the Midwest to offer this new treatment for addictions. Founded by Pappas, after 35 years working the medical field, and Amora Scott, who has been instrumental in the framework and marketing efforts of the clinic, Emerald Neuro Recover Centers use all-natural ingredients in IV drips to help addicts restore their brain functions to pre-addiction levels.

The procedure involves 10 to 15 days of intravenous infusions of NAD, Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+), which is a coenzyme essential for energy in every cell of the body, mixed with a Myers vitamin cocktail and Glutathione that boosts healing, “What happens in your brain when you use opioids is your normal receptors become opioid receptors so the normal transmitter function in your brain is not occurring. As those receptors become void of those opioids, you experience withdrawals, cravings and those receptors scream for more. NAD is the spark plug that gets the neurotransmitters firing so normal neurologic function begins to take place again,” Pappas explains.

As a teenager, Greg was prescribed painkillers after surgery to remove his wisdom teeth. “Something clicked, took my anxiety away and I felt like I fit in. By the end of high school my drug use had matured. At that point, I didn’t realize I was addicted. I didn’t know what withdrawal was and thought I was getting sick a lot, but the pills made me feel good.” Eventually, he was spending so much money on pills that he could not afford his addiction and was introduced to heroin, cheap and easy to get.

“I cannot tell you how many people are affected. People come here from great families. Once you get hooked, you start lying, stealing, become desperate, and need your fix. You can buy the pills anywhere, find a supplier or get heroin on every street corner. It is everywhere.” Pappas says.

“Basically, I was a garbage disposal. I wanted anything I could get my hands on to numb myself from reality,” Greg says. “I had been to about 14 rehab clinics in my 14 years of addiction, incarcerated, attempted to take my life, died twice, felt tremendous guilt, and was so tired of hurting my family. A lot of my good friends stopped talking with me which led to more desperation and loneliness.”

Skeptical, Greg decided to work with Pappas and try NAD therapy. “I researched the procedure and saw that it was not going to provide legal drugs to mask my current addiction which is how so many other clinics operate. NAD therapy was different and I was intrigued. I had such irrational thinking, everything was blurred and I was a master manipulator,” Greg says. “After the first day of treatment, I experienced a clarity of thinking that I had not experienced in years.”

Greg is now 31-years of age, holding a respectable job, engaged to the “girl of his dreams”, has been clean for nearly two years and is determined to help others divert the gun of addiction held to their heads. “No one is ever 100-percent ready to go into detox but they know what they need to do and who to cut out of their life. NAD therapy saved my life and gave me a future.”  

Alternative Therapy

Dr. Timothy Pohlman, medical director for Emerald Neuro-Recover Centers and a board certified trauma surgeon, has practiced in critical care for four decades, “Joe asked if I would help make sure things are done safely and prescribe any required medicine necessary for the patient’s recovery. As a trauma surgeon, I am alarmed at how many people want opioids and how many try to scam you. These drugs are very powerful.” Dr. Pohlman asserts. “We need to a find a better way to treat illnesses, including alternative therapies that have the same end result without introducing artificial solutions masking disease.”

Emerald Neuro-Recover Centers provides those suffering from a wide variety of addictions a fighting chance to shed their old selves and restructure their thinking. “When I see a patient that seeks Joe’s help there is a sense of hopelessness,” Dr. Pohlman points out. “Being freed from drugs and the monkey on their backs, restoring the brain to optimal functioning with amino acids and vitamins your body craves, gives addicts an opportunity to look to the future.”

“NAD therapy is not an inexpensive process,” Pappas clarifies. Patients arrive in the morning and the infusions continue for about eight hours for 10 to 15 days costing approximately $1,100 per day. He notes that, “people that are using spend 10 times what it costs to do this program.” The Emerald team works with families to finance the treatment if necessary and is currently taking steps to secure insurance coverage.

“It is not just the lives of the addicted one, it is the life of the families and those who love them,” Amora states. Emerald has treated nearly 100 people in the last two years and is working on implementing wrap-around services for the client and families that include counseling, job placement, education, changing their environment or getting out of legal messes.

While the traditional medical community has not yet embraced this practice, Pappas is committed to helping the addicted recover so they can lead productive, happy lives and to spare families the pain of losing a child or loved one. “This program works and reignites the power within the individual so they can truly conquer their addiction instead of being a slave to it.”