Collaborative care in addiction treatment is the coordination of treatment between primary care, mental health, and substance abuse treatment professionals. The collaborative approach allows the whole person–the physical, mental, and psychological aspects–to be treated at the same time.
Collaborative care models involve a care coordinator, often a primary care doctor or psychotherapist, who meets with the person receiving treatment and periodically assesses progress. Other professionals include a mental health professional, substance abuse counselor, and sometimes a specialist to help with medical needs that cannot be handled by a primary care doctor.
The collaborative care treatment model has been gaining support not only for addiction treatment but for other illnesses ranging from cancer to depression. Although this type of care is relatively new, some recent studies have shown it to be more effective than other forms of treatment that are not collaborative.
Collaborative Care Shown to Be More Effective
A study done between 2014 and 2016 and published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that collaborative care resulted in better treatment attendance and higher levels of abstinence from opioids and alcohol than usual treatment methods.
It stands to reason that a collaborative approach that involves extended follow-up and case management would lead to better treatment outcomes for a number of reasons. Not only are those in treatment monitored more closely to spot early signs of relapse or distress, but these interventions also provide a measure of accountability and support when medical services like regular urine testing and medication-assisted treatment are part of the plan.
Not only is having more professionals involved going to lead to better outcomes, but the inclusion of primary care physicians and specialists where necessary can help with treatment of the physical aspects of addiction, which are common. Treating addiction without realizing that it is a disease with physical components leaves out critical parts of treatment, and some of those can only be effectively handled medically, rather than through counseling alone.
Furthermore, there are some who attach a stigma to counseling and mental health facilities but feel more comfortable receiving their treatment through a primary care physician, which they do not feel has the same stigma.
The Growth of Collaborative Care Programs
The collaborative care model is beginning to make inroads as an effective method of treating various diseases that have mental health or addiction components. Millions in grant money have recently been earmarked to train psychiatrists to work as part of a collaborative care team, and Medicare has released its first reimbursement codes for collaborative services.
The fact that collaborative care is measurement-based and patient-centered speaks to its effectiveness as a treatment method for addiction and should lead to its adoption by more treatment facilities and programs.
Recovery Village at Palmer Lake is a Colorado drug rehab that offers effective, customized treatment services for those struggling with substance abuse and addiction. Learn about admissions to see how we can help you or a loved one get the treatment needed to overcome addiction today.