Combining addiction treatment, primary care improves access for opioid addiction

Treating opioid addiction by combining primary care and addiction treatment leads to higher rates of drug abstinence, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Patients with opioid and/or alcohol use disorders (OAUD) are often unable to access addiction treatment because of the cost and limited access to facilities. Researchers in this study proposed the combination of primary care and addiction treatment could allow for better results in treating opioid addiction.

To determine the effects of collaborative care (CC) on opioid addicted patients, researchers enrolled 377 primary care patients with OAUD—187 participants received CC while 190 received conventional care. They were evaluated from June 2014 to January 2016. CC included a system-level intervention for increased medication-assisted treatment adherence while those receiving conventional care were told to make an appointment and given a list of community referrals.

After six months, patients in the CC groups received more care (39 percent) and conventional participants had less access (16.8 percent). CC participants also reported higher rates of drug abstinence at six months (32.8 percent) than conventional participants (22.3 percent).

“Among adults with OAUD in primary care, the SUMMIT collaborative care intervention resulted in significantly more access to treatment and abstinence from alcohol and drugs at six months, than usual care,” concluded first author Katherine E. Watkins, MD, MSHS, and colleagues.