The Benefits of Collaborative Care in Addiction Treatment

Every individual is unique, and each case of addiction treatment is going to be equally as unique. Some people may have underlying medical issues, while others may have a co-occurring mental health disorder that can affect their recovery. Thus, it is essential to collaborate among providers in order to treat the whole person and address the variety of factors involved in a person’s recovery. Although addressing addiction, mental health problems, and physical comorbidity can be challenging, it is ultimately beneficial to those on the receiving end of care. Collaboration and integrating services can be seen as a partial solution to this challenge of delivering holistic treatment. 

A recent clinical trial focusing on collaborative care found that primary care patients with opioid and alcohol use disorders (OAUD) who were offered collaborative care intervention were more likely to receive treatment and abstain from using opioids and alcohol six months later, compared to patients receiving usual care. The collaborative care approach included access to medication-assisted treatment and psychotherapy. They were also assigned a case manager who assessed each patient’s situation and needs for services and then encouraged patients’ access to available treatment. They also provided monitoring and follow-up services. Those who did not receive collaborative care were provided with treatment information and a phone number to call with no follow-up. Integrating substance abuse treatment, regular medical care, and mental health services can be an effective collaborative strategy for improving treatment outcomes.

Benefits of Collaborative Care

Collaborative care can not only increase the effectiveness of services on an individual level, but it can also have a considerable impact on a societal level by addressing the full range of needs and treatments for those struggling with comorbidities. Some benefits of implementing collaborative care in addiction treatment include:

  • Enhanced Ability to Support People with Complex Conditions: Service providers may face challenges in identifying and treating the complex needs of people who seek help in a comprehensive way. Because of this, many people with complex conditions are not being treated as they need, and as a result, they cycle through the acute care system or fall through gaps in treatment. Collaborative care can help solve this.
  • Enhanced Capacity in Collaborative Partnerships: Overtime, participating in collaborative care can improve practices and policies that promote efficiency and enhanced services.
  • Improved Access to Services: By collaborating, individuals can have easier access to and knowledge about different treatment options and services.
  • Improved Continuity of Care: Across health care and mental health and addiction treatment, individuals may experience difficulties in making transitions through various types of care. Collaborative care can make transitioning across different levels of mental health and addiction care easier- from a hospital stay to the community, from primary care to specialist care, or from youth to adult services.
  • Earlier Detection and Intervention: This can increase opportunities for early detection and intervention of mental health and addiction problems through proactive screening. Many people with substance use problems may also have co-occurring physical health problems that can be detected early on.
  • More Satisfied Healthcare Patients: Healthcare patients can often become frustrated when talking with multiple service providers who are disconnected from each other. They may find that they are having to repeat themselves and retell their story over and over. With more coordination and collaboration, patients can have a more seamless experience with their treatment.
  • Improved Patient Outcomes: When an individual is treated as a whole person with integrated care, the benefits of this collaboration can contribute to improved health outcomes

Features of Effective Collaboration

Treatment across health services can often be compartmentalized, fragmented, and disconnected despite the common goal to improve an individual’s health and well-being. By viewing treatment through a holistic and integrated lens, helping those affected by mental health and addiction can enable a more comprehensive treatment plan and recovery. Some features of effective collaboration include:

  • Effective Communication: Relaying relevant information, documents, and programs on time, including through electronic records.
  • Consultation: Provide advice and guidance to other service providers to supplement their clients’ care and support while sharing ongoing responsibility of care. 
  • Coordination: Coordination of care plans and clinical activities to avoid duplication, use resources efficiently, and help people transition to services they require.
  • Integration: This can be a single service or clinical team that brings together relevant professionals such as mental health, addiction, and primary care for shared planning of care and decision-making. 
  • Trust and Reciprocity Among Collaboration Participants: Improves connection between collaborative care providers.

The need for collaborative care in addiction treatment is critical in order to treat the whole person. Collaborating in healthcare service environments ensures that all of the necessary expertise and resources are available for treatment to be effective. Many individuals who seek treatment for a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) may also have co-occurring mental health or physical health problems that can affect the outcome of detoxification, treatment, and recovery. In order to improve the ability to support people with complex conditions, improve access to services, and implement early detection and intervention, working together and coordinating among health care and addiction treatment professionals are essential. Located in the beautiful Hollywood Hills, at Alta Centers, we value integration and collaboration on all fronts. We have various integrated treatments, such as evidence-based therapies, medical assistance associated with detoxification, treatment, and recovery, educational services, and more to enhance treatment for long-term recovery. Call us at (888) 202-2583.

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