Be Local: Escambia NeuroPsychiatric Center works to reduce opioid addiction

Since 2000, Escambia NeuroPsychiatric Center has been providing Pensacola specialized and urgent mental health and psychiatric services. The team, made up of a doctor, an advanced registered nurse practitioner and a counselor, treats mood disorders, depression, anxiety, memory disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and opioid drug dependency.

Dr. K. Shams is the medical director of the private practice and has a focus on neuropsychiatry and specializes in adult and geriatric psychiatry. Nicole Mosely began as a registered nurse and went back to school for her doctorate in nursing and is board-certified in psychiatric mental health. Max Soelzer is a counselor with a focus in cognitive behavioral therapy of depression, anxiety, substance abuse and mood disorders.

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One area of focus for the practice is substance abuse, particularly opioid abuse.

“It is an epidemic,” said Mosely, who primarily treats patients addicted to opioids.

Mosely said addiction is a multi-faceted and complex disease.

“It’s not related to a person’s willpower or moral failure,” she said. “It is a disease.”

Patients often have an underlying psychiatric condition that makes them more likely to abuse, and if they have anxiety or depression, Mosely said they are more likely to become dependent on opioids.

Escambia NeuroPsychiatric Center utilizes a suboxone program to treat the addiction.

“It’s a medication that is used for opioid dependence and abuse,” Mosely said. “It works like an opioid, but it’s not an opioid.”

She further explained the medication has two primary ingredients — one is in opioid antagonist and the other blocks opioids. It relieves the symptoms and cravings of withdrawal, and by blocking the opioid, the person does not experience the high they would normally get from the drug.

While suboxone helps treat the physical dependence of opioid abuse, there are often underlying disorders that led to the addiction. Mosely often refers her patients to Soelzer for counseling.

Mosely has seen more people getting treatment, adding, “I think more people are getting treatment because more people are learning about it.”

She also said there is a difference between dependence and abuse.

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“A person with chronic pain may need to take a painkiller every day, so they are dependent; abuse happens when you take it for a longer period of time than needed and you have a drive to acquire more opioids,” she said. “There’s a lot of factors that contribute to someone becoming addicted — anxiety or other issues. They are not bad people, it is not a choice, it is a disease.”

She has seen the suboxone program be a lifesaver for people. After she began working at the center, she saw how the treatment helped save many people’s lives, leading her to continue with a focus in the treatment.

“It is a dramatic improvement — seeing how it affects a lot of people. It is so multi-faceted, it’s a big puzzle and a challenge to figure it out. I like helping all types of people figure out how to navigate their lives,” Mosely said. “I like the holistic aspect of mental health.”

For more information on Escambia NeuroPsychiatric Center’s treatments and fees, visit or call 850-432-3334.

Be Local is a partnership between small businesses in Northwest Florida and the Pensacola News Journal.