The state of Pennsylvania is surely no stranger to the opioid crisis in which our country currently finds itself. Just recently, the commonwealth received the 4th largest grant among all 50 states to fight against the addiction problem. That grant was funded through the 21st Century Cures Act and dispersed through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The allocated grants were determined based upon the overdose rates within each state. With that being said, it’s clear that Pennsylvania has clearly felt the effects of opioid and heroin addiction.
As we continually hear devastating stories and negative statistics, it is important to recognize the achievements and positive steps our state has taken in the fight against the opioid crisis. Most recently, The Addiction Recovery Mobile Outreach Team (ARMOT) has reported substantial success, especially in rural regions of Pennsylvania. They have been actively reducing opioid overdoses and overdose deaths in Clarion, Indiana, and Armstrong counties. ARMOT is a program federally funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration. Specifically, they are responsible for providing case management and recovery support to individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) and provides education to patients, loved ones, and hospital personnel and staff.
How Does The Program Work?
First, let’s give some clarification on ARMOT’s successes. Nicole Salvo, ARMOT’s director at the drug and alcohol commission for all 3 counties has said, “This program has solidified our ‘warm-off’ program and has documented a 63.4% access rate to treatment when a recoveree met with a case manager for help getting into treatment and recovery compared to the national average of 10.8% access rate to drug and alcohol treatment.” In other words, in the program’s first 18 months of a 3-year grant cycle, they were able to produce 254 referrals to various treatment providers and drug rehabs. They have been able refer these patients due to their system of “warm hand-offs,” an instance in which health care professionals provide a face-to-face interview/assessment with a behavioral health or addictions’ specialist with a patient suffering from a substance use disorder.
ARMOT reaches those suffering from drug addiction and those who have been affected by the opioid crisis in a well thought out, systematic way. First, they begin with a screening for substance use disorders at the hospital point of entry. This can happen in a variety of different scenarios. It could be a patient who has recently been treated for an opioid overdose, someone complaining of chronic pain, or simply, any patient that passes a screening for a SUD. From there, if the patient has been identified to have an SUD, they will undergo a drug and alcohol assessment and referred to a treatment facility immediately. This system has shown to increase education among hospital staff and personnel, reduce ER visits, hospital stays, and the number of inpatient rehab admissions per patient. Ultimately, it has bridged the gap between physical health and behavioral health services for those struggling with addiction.
ARMOT’s collaboration with medical personnel is one of two key components Salvo says has led them to success. The second component is the one-on-one care between recovery specialists or case managers and the patients they are specifically assigned to. These interactions and relationships create long term help for the patient, not only in their recovery process but also in other areas of their life including employment and community services.
This Program Can Be Beneficial Everywhere
“Our program has experienced success. It can be replicated in rural and urban communities through collaboration and a commitment to helping others start their recovery journeys,” Salvo tells Addiction Now. She goes on to mention, in regards to those two key components that are attributed to ARMOT’s success, “If those two key factors continue, I can see this program being successful long-term in our area, possibly in others as well. We all together can break through the stigma that surrounds people living with addiction and in recovery so that more have access to help.”
As the opioid crisis continues to ravage our communities and families, it is imperative that we utilize any and all means that have proven effective. The ARMOT program has shown many benefits to communities that are surely in need of its help. If we continue to integrate medical services into the field of behavioral health, we slowly shatter the stigma and finally begin treating addiction on the same plane as other fatal diseases, such as cancer and diabetes. Those who have been personally affected by the opioid crisis know how just how necessary case management, treatment resources, medical care, recovery support, and community-based services are for the state of Pennsylvania.
We have to remember that addiction is a multi-faceted chronic disease and needs to be treated as such. We cannot expect someone to receive Narcan after an overdose and be cured. We also cannot assume that 28 days in rehab are going to be enough to get someone on the right path. There are many variables that attribute to the disease, thus, we need many variables to counteract addiction. This is where we begin.
Contact Clearbrook Today
Have you or a loved one been personally affected by the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania or surrounding states? You should know that your story does not have to end with an overdose or years of struggle and suffering. For more than 40 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been effectively treating alcoholism and chemical dependency. Located in the beautiful mountains of Northeastern PA, you will have the opportunity to begin your journey to wellness in a peaceful environment. If you are ready to change your life, please contact our Admissions Specialists today.