According to researchers, this model can be a lower-cost and more-accessible way to treat opioid addiction than expanding the nation's supply of specialty care clinics. The study found that patients, who combined substance abuse treatment with primary medical care were more than twice as likely to receive treatment for opioid or alcohol abuse, as compared to peers who received usual primary care services.
‘Alcohol or opioid addiction is a serious medical disease with signs and symptoms that vary. It is possible to successfully treat people who are addicted to opioids or alcohol in a primary care setting.’
"This new model of integrating treatment for substance use disorders with a patient's primary medical care could expand access to drug treatment at a lower cost and in a more accessible fashion," said lead author Dr. Katherine E. Watkins, from RAND, a nonprofit research organisation. The patients in the collaborative care model also were significantly more likely to report abstinence from opioids or alcohol six month after beginning care, a key marker to successful recovery.
The team involved 377 people with opioid or alcohol abuse disorders, who received medical care at two locations. The participants were randomly assigned to receive their medical care from either the clinics' usual primary care providers or from providers, who were partnered with therapists and care coordinators and received special training to provide evidence-based substance use treatment.
The collaborative care system was designed to increase delivery of a six-session brief psychotherapy treatment and/or medication-assisted treatment to reduce cravings for opioids or alcohol. The findings indicated that after six months, 32.8 percent of the participants in the collaborative care model reported that they had abstained from opioids or alcohol in the previous month, compared to 22.3 percent treated in the usual primary care system.
The researchers stated that among people with substance abuse problems, abstinence is linked to a lower likelihood of relapse compared. They results suggested that it is possible to successfully treat people who are addicted to opioids or alcohol in a primary care setting. The findings appear online by the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.