Dr Winston Collins Highlights How Philadelphia Is Trying to Reduce Stigma of Addiction

Getting more patients access to medication-assisted treatment for their substance use disorder requires reducing the stigma of the disease, said Winston Collins, PhD, program director for substance use services at the John F. Kennedy Behavioral Health Centers.

Getting more patients access to medication-assisted treatment for their substance use disorder requires reducing the stigma of the disease, said Winston Collins, PhD, program director for substance use services at the John F. Kennedy Behavioral Health Centers.

Transcript

What should be done in order to encourage more healthcare providers to offer medication-assisted treatment?

The thing that has to be done is to reduce the stigma. I mean there are some folk who refuse to take a look at medication-assisted treatment as an option for the person sitting right in front of them. Why? Because it’s their belief that you don’t substitute 1 drug for another. That’s their belief. What’s happened in Philadelphia is that the behavioral health system has now required everyone who is a part of our system—on the outpatient level, intensive outpatient level, inpatient—every level of care must have a linkage agreement with a medication-assisted treatment program. And by medication-assisted treatment, I’m referring to vivitrol, buprenorphine, and/or methadone.

So, if someone comes to your door, and you are an LGBTQ service provider, you are some other mental health service provider, and that person might benefit from medication-assisted treatment, now you have a linkage, you can say, “Hey, if you’ve had a history of drinking, that program over there will also provide vivitrol. Let me connect you with them.” Because maybe that program doesn’t do it, they can connect them with a methadone program, they can connect them with a suboxone program.

So, that’s 1 way that Philadelphia is helping to really push through. Because if you sit around and wait for the stigma to go away, it will still be there 10 years from now. So, we’re pushing through it by requiring folks to develop linkage agreement policies and procedures.