Dr. Carolyn Greer is the medical director for Bowen Recovery Center in Fort Wayne.
This is in response toDr. Amy Dawson's piece “A coordinated strategy/Public funding, private providers are all needed to help loosen opioids' grip on Indiana” (Jan. 20).
Bowen Center, the largest community mental health care service provider in the state, has offered medication assisted treatment in northern Indiana since 2016. Medication assisted treatment is the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies in the treatment of substance-use disorders. MAT is part of evidence-based best practices to prevent overdose and death and sustain recovery.
Bowen Center outpatient locations in Allen, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Marshall, Noble, Steuben, Wabash and Whitley counties offer buprenorphine (Suboxone) treatment for patients with opioid-use disorder. Those medications assist by removing withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
The freedom experienced from lifting those symptoms allows the patient to focus on rebuilding their life and experience improved health and well-being. This enables patients to return to work, school and family with a renewed sense of self-worth as they regain a balanced life.
These medications are also protective against fatal overdose if a return to opioid use does occur. Without medications, 90 percent of clients with moderate to severe opioid-use disorder will return to use within three months of abstinence. Occasionally, extended release naltrexone (Vivitrol) is an option as well; it may remove cravings and does prevent death from overdose. Medications are also instrumental in addressing treatment of nicotine (cigarettes) and alcohol-use disorders.
In 2018 alone, Bowen Center outpatient locations served more than 600 patients with opioid-use disorders, also providing care for any co-occurring mental health illnesses or other substance-use disorders.
Last year, the Bowen Recovery Center opened in Fort Wayne to serve patients within a 100-mile radius. The center uses methadone as the primary medical option to treat opioid-use disorders. Methadone has been successfully used for decades in the treatment of opioid-use disorders.
The Bowen Recovery Center also will evaluate anyone seeking help for a substance-use disorder, without an appointment, 365 days a year. If the client and our doctor believe they would be best served in an office setting, they will be referred to other Bowen Center outpatient offices for another form of treatment, usually that same day. It is the goal of our outpatient offices to quickly identify those with an opioid-use disorder and ensure they see a medical provider right away, often by telemedicine if necessary, to initiate medical assisted treatment if indicated as soon as possible. Failure to do so places a client at risk for overdose and death.
The Bowen Recovery Center has never turned anyone away. The center assists patients with health insurance navigation and will enroll uninsured patients with presumptive eligibility and then assist them in completing their application for health insurance.
The Bowen Center accepts Medicaid and the Medicaid expansions. Most private insurance reimburses their clients for opioid treatment program services.
Often the decision on where the client will receive treatment is based less on which medication is used and more on what degree of support is beneficial. The Bowen Recovery Center sees clients daily and addresses all barriers to maintaining recovery, such as housing, transportation, medical care, education, employment, mental health care and legal issues. By working with our outpatient offices, we also utilize skills coaches to go into the community with our clients.
Our goal is to help those in the recovery process with dignity and compassion. As Hoosier families continue to seek assistance for opioid and other substance-use disorders, the Bowen Center will continue to increase our efforts to provide quality medical and behavioral health services to our communities.