Opioid treatment readily available
Tuesday, May 21, 2019
I have followed with interest your series on the opioid epidemic with which we are currently struggling. A major concern has to do with access to treatment. The standard of care for persons addicted to opioids is medication assisted treatment, a combination of medication, such as Buprenorphine or Methadone, psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, and 12-step support. Specialized treatment for opioid addiction was started at the Pitt County Mental Health Center in 1990 when use of Methadone began. In 2004 use of Buprenorphine was introduced. Both medications are available now in Pitt County at programs operated at PORT Health.
Treatment at PORT Health is available for all who need it, irrespective of their financial status. Treatment costs, for patients without income or insurance coverage, is borne by state funds administered by the local managed care organizations, Trillium and Eastpointe. The patient is expected to pay a small co-pay. Inpatient residential detox service is available at the three programs operated by PORT in this region, a total of 25 beds. In addition, there are beds in the rehabilitation programs at the Walter B Jones ADATC and the adolescent treatment program. However, for most people, treatment in residential care is not essential; they can be stabilized in an outpatient program such as the PORT outpatient clinic at 2602 Courtier Drive. In that clinic individuals who are dependent on opioids and in withdrawal can be treated as a “walk in,” the same day, no appointment needed.
Clearly, to manage this epidemic of drug abuse what we need more than anything else is more prevention programs. However, persons who are already struggling with addiction need to know that state of the art treatment is available even for those who are in a crisis, unable to wait and without resources.
David Ames, M.D.
Note: The writer is a psychiatrist with PORT Health Services.