A ‘gold standard’ for substance use disorder treatment

October 14, 2019


The Daily Planet Health Services staff didn’t need to read the newspapers to know about the opioid crisis taking hold in the United States – they could see it in the new clients who came for medical services, or behavioral health services, or both.

To meet this growing need for substance use disorder treatment, they launched the Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) Program in 2017. In this program, clients regularly attend group therapy and as-needed individual therapy, and they also take medication that helps manage the physical symptoms of addiction and withdrawal.

“The medication is there as an assistant, but the therapy is the big piece,” Behavioral Health Services Coordinator Paul Brasler said. “There’s a lot of different reasons why our clients have ended up here, and we have to figure out what those reasons are. When you’re on opioids, you’re not feeling that physical or emotional pain, and we have to deal with those issues.”

In addition, the MAT Program utilizes a housing specialist who works with clients currently experiencing homelessness or who have been homeless in the past, and a peer recovery specialist who has lived experience with substance use disorder.

“What I try to do is show our clients that recovery is possible, which can be hard to see when you first walk through the doors,” said Peer Recovery Specialist Jordan Siebert. “The many, many times I tried to get sober for any sustained amount of time, it started to feel a little unreachable, but it’s not. I’m able to tell clients, this is what I can recommend from my own personal experience.”

Brasler said it is important that clients have access to a variety of treatments so they can find one that’s right for them, whether it’s an abstinence-only program or a medication-assisted treatment program such as this.

“We need to offer choices, but more importantly, we need to be able to offer treatment when the client is ready,” Brasler added.  “When someone says, ‘Okay, I’m ready now, I’m going to go get treatment,’ they need to have a reasonable expectation that treatment is going to start today, or by Friday at the latest, which is what we do here.”

The program began with about a dozen clients, and it has since grown to serve about 160 people and earn recognition as a “gold standard” program by the Department of Medical Assistance Services’ Addiction and Recovery Treatment Services Program. Now, Daily Planet staff train other agencies to utilize the “Daily Planet model” at their facilities too.

The Jenkins Foundation conducts learning sessions with local organizations, such as Daily Planet Health Services, as part of its ongoing work to stay abreast of new trends and emerging programs.