As a result of new virtual services, same-day access to anyone with opioid use disorder (OUD) who wishes to begin medication assisted treatment (MAT) is now available to anyone across Washington and Hancock counties. In response to the unfolding COVID-19 crisis, the Downeast Treatment Center (DTC) in Ellsworth has begun offering immediate, virtual, rapid access to MAT for all in the Downeast region.
“People in active use are finding it harder to access opioids during this time and some are experiencing opioid withdrawal,” says Clem Deveau, Program Director at Aroostook Mental Health Center. “As a result, individuals struggling with addiction may be more readily drawn to seek recovery support services. We want to be readily available to provide needed support. When they’re ready, treatment and support must be ready; therefore, we have expanded our virtual capacity to welcome all new individuals to the DTC from anywhere in the two-county region.”
Patients can expect a virtual intake over phone or Zoom, prescriptions called to pharmacies near them; ongoing, remote access to a medical provider, and access to virtual group or individual sessions with a behavioral health provider. Anyone who does not have insurance or who cannot afford their insurance deductibles or copays can apply for financial support from Healthy Acadia’s Treatment Fund.
“I am thrilled to learn about this development. The expansion of MAT services by the DTC to patients with a substance use disorder is a significant enhancement of the services in Downeast Maine,” noted Gordon Smith, the state’s Director of Opioid Response. “The establishment of low barrier access to MAT is a high priority in the Governor’s Opioid Response Strategic Plan and to be able to advance this program virtually allows patients in these two rural counties an opportunity for treatment without leaving their home. Congratulations to all involved in bringing it to fruition.”
The DTC opened in early 2018 and arose out of the work of the Downeast Treatment Substance Network (DSTN), a partnership of organizations and community members in Downeast, Maine, that has been meeting monthly since the fall of 2014. The DSTN and a parallel group focusing specifically in Washington County, the WC Substance Use Response Collaborative (WC SURC) have been convened by Healthy Acadia, a local nonprofit community health organization that is also responsible for managing multiple federal grants and multidisciplinary teams that support the DTC, recovery coaching services, and many other harm reduction and recovery-related initiatives.
“We are thrilled by this development and honored to be a part of it,” said Penny Guisinger, Recovery Programs Director at Healthy Acadia. “Many medical providers across this region are offering MAT, and the number is growing. Adding virtually-available treatment will make a huge difference for people who are ready to begin MAT but who don’t have access to a site that offers rapid access.”
The DTC provides a full-service MAT program that utilizes buprenorphine, medical management, and behavioral therapy. MAT is a best practice, state-of-the-art response to Opioid Use Disorder. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “…these medications relieve the withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that cause chemical imbalances in the body. MAT programs provide a safe and controlled level of medication to overcome the use of an abused opioid. And research has shown that when provided at the proper dose, medications used in MAT have no adverse effects on a person’s intelligence, mental capability, physical functioning, or employability.”
To learn more, or to begin the process of participating in MAT, call the DTC at (207) 667-6890. To learn more about Healthy Acadia’s recovery programming, including recovery coaching, visit www.healthyacadia.org.
Healthy Acadia is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that engages in a broad range of initiatives to build healthier communities and make it easier for people to lead healthy lives across Washington and Hancock counties, Maine. Learn more at www.healthyacadia.org.