By: Pat McGinn, CEO Harbor Hall
Never did I think that I would take abstinence as the central goal for treatment out of our policies and procedures. However, that has changed in the last couple of years with the height of the opioid epidemic hitting the nation, the state and right here at home. I never dreamed that abstinence would be a term that stigmatizes people where the use of medications is necessary to achieve a certain quality of life. There was a time in my professional career when I thought the use of any medication was compromising a person’s sobriety. I found it necessary to evaluate my own ideas, prejudices and biases. This was very hard for me to do. Even right now as I write this I am finding it hard to put into words.
Here at Harbor Hall, we witnessed the opioid epidemic spiral out of control over the past decade. The peak of the crisis was 2012-2016 where we saw for the first time opioid addiction account for nearly 60% of all our admissions in the residential program. We began to recognize that we needed to do something different, but we were not exactly sure what.
In 2017, myself and our clinical team visited Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and received specialized training in the Comprehensive Opioid Response with the Twelve Steps (COR-12). The COR-12 program is an evidence-based program that was developed by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. The approach includes the use of medications. These medications for opioid use disorders are an adjunct—an addition—to other treatment programming, such as extended psychological and psychiatric care, counseling based on the Twelve Steps, and other therapies. Harbor Hall believes that the medications without any supporting program is not as effective as participating in a program that combines both.
Outpatient Based Opioid Treatment (OBOT): It took some time and preparation but this past year Harbor Hall started a treatment program that specifically addresses opiate addiction. Central to this treatment are medications, typically Suboxone (buprenorphine-naloxone) and Vivitrol (extended-release Naltrexone) are provided in combination with other medical and psychosocial interventions designed to realize a person’s highest achievable recovery. Based on the assessed ASAM level and the needs of the person served, Harbor Hall provides a comprehensive array of treatment services that includes counseling (individual and group), medication supports, social supports, continuing care coordination and other recovery enhancing services designed to enrich an individual’s quality of life.
Harbor Hall Philosophy: A substance use disorder is a chronic medical condition that responds best when treated with evidence-based, patient-centered, comprehensive care. Harbor Hall believes that a broad approach that integrates the latest addiction science with the spiritual foundation of the twelve step philosophy while providing medication-assisted treatment (MAT) will provide the best pathway to long-term recovery efforts from opioid use disorders.