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How Collaborative Care Can Help Refrain From Substance Abuse

With the transition of the health care sector from a standalone domain to a more interconnected and team-based sector, the need for achieving patient-centered, safe and effective care that meets the growing and complex needs of an aging population is becoming more prevalent.

With every health care professional now recognizing the importance of his or her role in the larger health care vision, more number of patients are receiving an outstanding level of medical care. The interprofessional collaboration between nurses, pharmacists, doctors, physicians, etc. is steering health care in the right direction.

Historically, traditional health care systems did not entail the conjoined efforts of multiple medical disciplines and different medical professionals. Rather, professionals from the different fields of health care preferred immersing and rising in their respective specializations. This prevalent practice deprived sharing of knowledge and the best practices that could have improved medical outcomes. The treatment outcome, quality of care and the financial cost of recovery are optimized when disciplines work in unison toward a common objective that upholds the recovery of the patient.

Primary care at the helm of addressing substance addiction

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 accentuate the relevance of interdisciplinary professionalism and collaborative practice within the primary care environment. In fact, the role of primary care providers has been under the scanner due to the increased number of cases related to opioid and alcohol abuse.

Despite primary care providers being at the helm of the health care system, few primary care providers succeeded in addressing the above challenge by collaborating with other specialist and integrating other treatments.

More than just working together well outside the traditional health care settings, the concept of collaboration requires commitment from the parties involved. It also mandates creating a new model of operation and an integrative health care setting necessitates comprising innovative tools, technologies and resources to cater and encourage patient-centric care. Primary care providers account for approximately 50 percent of prescription opioids dispensed, which further increases the risk of opioid abuse.

The following are some of the other challenges of primary care providers:

  • Incorporating questionnaires for screening at-risk patients for alcohol and drug use.
  • Offering short counseling sessions to motivate patients to change their risky behavior or accept more intensive treatment.
  • Providing referrals, along with facilitating access, to treatment.
  • Assisting patients in maneuvering barriers to care and follow-ups.

Collaborative care increases scope of evidence-based treatment

The biggest challenge confronting a patient who has recovered from any addiction-related disorder by undergoing treatment in clinical settings is to ensure that he or she will not relapse. A clinical trial funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) illustrates that the patients in primary care settings who were offered a collaborative care intervention seemed to fare better in the long run compared to those who received the usual care.

The trial entailed patients with opioid and alcohol use disorders (OAUD) who received evidence-based interventions that assisted them in refraining from opioids and alcohol use six months down the line. It was found that collaborative care intervention ensured that:

  • More patients received evidence-based treatment for OAUD compared to those who received general care (39 percent vs. 16.8 percent).
  • The number of patients who refrained from opioids or alcohol use at six months was higher (32.8 percent vs 22.3 percent).
  • Collaborative care focused on increasing the delivery of either a six-session brief psychotherapy treatment, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), with buprenorphine or naloxone for opioid use disorders or long-acting injectable naltrexone for alcohol use disorders (AUD).

Given the findings of the study, usual care patients received a number along with a list of community referrals to schedule appointments for OAUD treatment. The authors also emphasized the need to integrate the treatment of OAUDs into primary care settings to ensure more access to treatment and recovery from alcohol and drugs.

Help is at hand

Excessive indulgence in alcohol and opioids in a nonmedical manner is a recipe for trouble. When a person develops a drug or alcohol addiction, it becomes an upheaval task to address the disorders. Therefore, it is essential to maintain a safe distance from any substance and share any doubts and fears with an expert to undergo an effective treatment.

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