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Addiction Medicine: Building a Bridge From Rescue to Recovery

News  |  By Debra Shute  
   March 01, 2017

But introducing elements such as motivational interviewing and resource education to detoxification settings in medical units can go a long way toward reducing relapse rates, according to Teas. "And those are numbers that really have to be paid attention to in this modern era of value-based care."

Finding clinicians and counselors qualified to handle addiction medicine is easier said than done, however. Addictionologists—psychiatrists who specialize in addictions—are in particularly short supply, says Ciha.

"As it becomes more difficult to recruit, I think you're going to see a focus on training exceptional midlevel professionals to provide these services, which would include advanced practice nurses and physician assistants, who can help extend the reach of the psychiatrist and maintain quality care," he says.

In addition, Teas says he expects to see more primary care physicians willing to provide medication-assisted therapy. "The real future, from my perspective, is with the licensed independent providers who can join forces with the physicians to expand our coverage for the population we're talking about."

Success key No. 4: Help maintain patient recovery in the real world
Even with access to comprehensive addiction medicine services, going about sober life in the real world can be fraught with difficulty.

To help patients maintain their recovery, AMITA Health is experimenting with an array of smartphone applications that patients in recovery can use to identify triggers that can cause them to use drugs or alcohol, and that clinicians can use to analyze data about places or people that might influence an individual to relapse.

"There's a whole host of apps designed for addictions—including some that allow you to message with patients—and we're going to be incorporating them into our treatment programs," Ciha says. "I think that's the way things are going, and to not explore them is to miss an opportunity to help people better succeed in their recovery."

Debra Shute is the Senior Physicians Editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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