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Treating Opioid Addiction at Primary Care Offices: Compassionate and Effective

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Treating Opioid Addiction at Primary Care Offices: Compassionate and Effective

Opioid addiction affects millions of Americans from all walks of life. Although recovery can be difficult, there are proven, effective treatments for addiction.

One of the most successful options for opioid addiction recovery is a physician-supervised medication program that can be managed at primary care locations. A medication for addiction program (sometimes referred to as MAT), uses safe medications to treat people with substance use disorders. The medication helps patients deal with cravings and withdrawal symptoms as they recover from opioid addiction. Treatment often includes medication as well as behavioral health counseling.

A Team Approach for Opioid Addiction Treatment

At Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, a compassionate team of medical professionals specializing in the treatment of addiction screens interested individuals, matching them with a primary care office that provides this treatment. Family medicine providers, behavioral health specialists, nurses, and care coordinators then collaborate on a treatment plan.

By administering the program through primary care practices, patients receive compassionate, consistent care for their disease just like a patient would for other chronic conditions like asthma or diabetes.

Most patients can receive outpatient care for opioid addiction recovery, so they can continue to work and live at home while going to a primary care office or via virtual telemedicine visits.

Medication Therapy for Addiction

Research shows that using medication to treat opioid addiction under the supervision of a doctor reduces withdrawal symptoms and the risk of opioid overdose. Patients typically meet with their prescribing provider weekly at the beginning of treatment; later reducing the frequency of appointments as appropriate.

There are several medications used to treat opioid use disorder, including Suboxone, Subutex, Vivitrol and Sublocade. These medications are safe and effective, even for pregnant women, and can greatly reduce or eliminate the powerful urge to continue using opioids.

Medication can stabilize patients' health while they work to make behavioral and lifestyle changes to further enhance their well-being.

Behavioral Health Support

Counseling and behavioral modification may be recommended. Depending on a patient’s needs, this could involve care from a behavioral health counselor right at the primary care office or at a licensed substance-use treatment facility.

Behavioral health counselors working at primary care practices can help the addicted person cope with painful emotions and guide them toward repairing damaged relationships with friends, family, and themselves.

The goal is always to help patients recover from opioid use disorder as safely and comfortably as possible.

Getting Help for Opioid Addiction

If you or a loved one needs help with opioid addiction, you are not alone. Help is available. To learn more about the program or schedule an initial appointment with an addiction specialist, please call our Addiction Medicine team at 717-544-1427.

author name

Jon Lepley, DO

Jon Lepley, DO, is Medical Director, Addiction Medicine, Lancaster General Health Physicians, and a physician with Family Medicine Downtown. Dr. Lepley is a graduate of Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Heart of Lancaster Regional Medical Center and Millcreek Community Hospital residency programs.

Call: 717-544-1427

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