BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — Ideal Option has six clinics in North Dakota, and two of those clinics are right here in Bismarck. According to Ideal Option, those clinics have helped more than 500 people in North Dakota last year.

“The number of patients has grown over the years,” explained Nurse Practitioner, Carissa Cornell. “We ended up opening our second clinic in the fall of 2022.”

And since the second clinic has been open, more people have come seeking help.

“Actually, both clinics have both been pretty busy,” Cornell stated. “You know, we have our routine patients that still like to stay at our old location, and then we have the people on the North side of town that come from Mandan or from the western part of the state.”

The country has been battling the opioid epidemic for years. Many of the drugs are having multiple substances mixed as one — which is why Polysubstance use disorder is becoming the most common diagnosis at Ideal Option.

“The synthetic substances. –mainly fentanyl — has been a huge huge problem in the U.S.,” explained Cornell, “and the problem with that is that it’s not just fentanyl. It’s multiple substances that is in the fentanyl that patients don’t even know they are using.”

Ideal Option released a study that shows North Dakota patients who remained in treatment during 2022 used fewer opioids and fentanyl because of the program. In fact, in total, patients saw 91% less opioid use and 96% less fentanyl use.

In addition to fighting the addiction itself, Ideal Option wants to remove the stigma behind it. Ideal Option doesn’t just help those dealing with opioid addiction, either: The organization also helps those who are struggling with alcohol addiction.

“Addiction can happen to anybody,” stated Cornell, “and we just need to remove that stigma — and I feel that’s one thing that we have done at Ideal Option. We’ve removed the stigma, and we’ve let patients know, ‘you are safe here’.”

Cornell began working with Ideal Option five years ago, and she has seen such a positive change in facilities that treat those in withdrawal or struggling with recovery — including in prisons and detention centers.

“When we initially started,” she recalled, “jails and hospitals were very closed doors. They didn’t want treatment. They didn’t want their inmates to have medication or their patients, and now we are seeing a change in that. We are seeing them open, and we are working with those facilities to help patients instead of treating them poorly and punishing them, mainly.”

And the opioid epidemic is not just impacting adults.

“We see children,” Cornell said. “We see kids under 18. So even if there are family members or parents or caregivers that are worried about you know my family members needs treatment, it doesn’t matter their age, it doesn’t matter their social economic status. I cannot stress enough — if they need treatment get, in as soon as you can.”

To learn more about Ideal Option, visit their website here.