We have recently talked a lot about access to addiction treatment in rural areas and working to shift attitudes about addiction treatment in those communities. We have discussed community-based initiatives to inform the public about these issues. One issue we have not focused on as much is a readiness in these areas amongst health care workers. I recently came across a program designed to increase readiness amongst mental health care workers for opioid use disorder treatment. As we increase capacity for opioid use disorder treatment in rural areas, including expanding access to programs like outpatient methadone rehab, outpatient methadone rehab in Florida and other areas is dependent upon community attitudes, but we will also be depending on the readiness of health care workers in these places to treat opioid use disorder with existing best practices. This study looked at a brief training regimen for mental health workers on opioid use disorder, including specific training related to outpatient methadone and buprenorphine rehab and treatment programs, similar to the programs available at Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery in Panama City, Florida.
I have spoken many times about the incredible effectiveness of medication-assisted treatment, even in the face of a disease like opioid use disorder, which is incredibly resistant to intervention in many cases. The research regarding the effectiveness of methadone and buprenorphine is rich and goes back many years. The study I found from the Community Mental Health Journal includes the statement, “Despite the availability and effectiveness of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for substance use disorders (SUDs), utilization of these medications remains suboptimal, especially in public sector settings.” This is the exact issue that I have been concentrating on for the past year, as Covid-19 has highlighted the problems with the implementation of effective OUD treatments. Readers can look at some of my other articles that discuss the many problems in our existing methadone and buprenorphine system, both publicly and privately. This study found low confidence amongst health care workers in treating opioid use disorder. The theory is that even a short training period could increase confidence amongst these important medical workers, and that seems to be what we have seen. The clinicians who took part in the study reported much higher confidence in treating prospective opioid use disorder patients once they had completed training of just a few hours on the subject. This study shows that readiness training of this type could be extremely useful on a national level. If you or a loved one is suffering from substance use disorder, please call us for more information on outpatient rehab and other programs at our Florida facility.
By T.A. Cannon (Contact me at TACannonWriting@gmail.com)