Site sought for opioid treatment program


By Sue Cody 

 Recovering from a substance use disorder is hard enough without having to travel far from home and disrupting home and work schedules.

Last year, 90 people covered by the Oregon Health Plan traveled from Clatsop, Tillamook and Columbia counties for methadone treatment in the Portland area, says Leslie Ford, director of Clinical Innovation at Greater Oregon Behavioral Health, Inc (GOBHI). The cost of travel was eight times greater than the cost of treatment. Travel time also interferes with holding down a job, Ford says.

To make it easier for people on the North Coast, local health care administrators are searching Clatsop County for a site to house an opioid treatment program.

Center would expand treatment options

Research shows the best model of recovery from substance use disorders is Medicated-Assisted Treatment (MAT). The “whole person” approach includes FDA-approved medication, counseling and behavioral therapies.

Andrew Mendenhall“Use of MAT with proper counseling is often quicker and longer-lasting than many other recovery strategies,” says Dr. Andrew Mendenhall, senior medical director at Central City Concern in Portland.

A study following a cohort for one year showed fewer relapses among those receiving MAT, says Ford: a 25 percent relapse rate compared to 91 percent for patients who did not receive MAT. “That is how potent MAT is,” Ford says.

“We have a number of treatment options in our toolbox to treat the physiology in the brain that has been altered by addiction,” says Ford. Some patients respond to Suboxone or Vivitrol, while others respond better to methadone.

Local center sought

A center in Clatsop County would serve the three counties covered by the Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization, which serves OHP members in Clatsop, Tillamook and Columbia counties.

Columbia Pacific CCO would underwrite the program, to be run by CODA, an established drug treatment program.

Ford says they are looking for a site that would serve up to 125 people, perhaps with the possibility for expansion.

The proposed local treatment center would expand capacity and offer MAT.

“We want to offer appropriate treatment close to home,” says Ford.