Dr. Valsa Madhava's Story
Dr. Madhava has had a diverse medical background over her decades-long career. In the United States, she has worked with the Indian Health Service in Alaska, with migrant farmworkers in North Carolina, and patients with HIV/AIDS in New York. Internationally, she has treated Cambodian refugees in Thailand and worked in hospitals in Egypt, India, and France.
Dr. Madhava’s involvement with patients with addictions began during her medical residency in North Carolina. In her spare time, she worked in the local prison, where she encountered many patients who were in prison for substance-use related crimes. As a general internist, she has since worked with populations that struggle with substance-use in many different settings. For several years, she worked at the Rikers Island jails, where she treated opioid use disorder with methadone and buprenorphine, and managed medically-supervised withdrawals. She has also worked in several different opioid treatment programs where methadone was the primary treatment modality, and in clinic settings where Buprenorphine/Naloxone was prescribed to eligible patients with opioid use disorders.
For the past two years, Dr. Madhava has worked at the St. John’s Riverside Hospital Addiction Intake facility, where patients are admitted for detoxification (medically supervised withdrawal) and rehabilitation services.
Having treated thousands of patients with addictions in various capacities, it was disheartening for her to see so many patients relapse quickly after treatment, even though many tried very hard to achieve abstinence with standard treatment options. In spite of the availability and usefulness of medications such as methadone and buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid addictions, she discovered many patients were not interested in starting or continuing these medications for an indefinite period of time. Dr. Madhava has seen countless patients come off these medications and relapse soon after.
After seeing so many motivated patients relapse, Dr. Madhava felt that something in the way that we treat addictions needed to change. Over the past several years, Dr. Madhava has dedicated herself to learning more about alternate, evidence-based approaches to treating addictions, and has made it her mission to treat patients using these modalities in order to help them achieve lasting recovery. Her practice now includes functional medicine evaluations looking at the root causes and promoters of addiction, such as complex trauma, nutrient deficiencies, hormonal and gut microbiome imbalances among others.
On the personal side, Dr. Madhava spends much of her free time cooking, exercising, exploring spirituality in addition to spending time with her two kids. Her current favorite book is the Bhagavad Gita.