SAN LUIS VALLEY — The Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health (OBH), received federal grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to help increase access to treatment for opioid use disorder. OBH partnered with Managed Service Organizations (MSO) Signal Behavioral Health Network and West Slope Casa to manage the mobile health unit project regionally, and work closely with the providers who will own and operate each unit.
The San Luis Valley Behavioral Health Group is excited to announce that they were the recipients of a mobile health unit to service the San Luis Valley. The unit will visit the following communities weekly: Del Norte, South Fork, Center, Saguache, Antonito, La Jara and San Luis.
The mobile health units resemble a large recreational vehicle on the outside and a typical health clinic on the inside. Each unit will have four dedicated staff members: a licensed practical nurse (LPN), a licensed clinician with a strong background in addictions counseling (LPC/LAC), a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) and a peer recovery coach.
The state-of-the-art mobile clinic was explicitly designed to administer treatment for opioid-use disorders or Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). MAT is the use of FDA-approved medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a “whole-patient” approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. The San Luis Valley Behavioral Health Group uses two main medications, Suboxone and Vivitrol. Suboxone is used to help the client through the withdrawal process and break the psychological link between taking a drug and immediately feeling high. Vivitrol is a monthly injection that blocks opioids from reaching the brain and stopping an individual from feeling “high.”
Vivitrol also reduces cravings for opioid drugs and alcohol, letting the client focus on their counseling and recovery. Clients must be opioid-free before starting Vivitrol, using opioids while on Vivitrol can increase the risk of overdose.
Support services offered on the mobile health units include peer support, brief intervention, a prescription for medication-assisted treatment if needed, and linkage to wraparound services as well as referrals to ongoing therapy. One-on-one counseling and group therapy use techniques to help reverse the substance’s adverse effects on the brain.
However, using these substances for an extended amount of time, the effects may not be reversible. Counseling then focuses on how to cope with these changes by establishing game plans to avoid relapsing and most importantly how to feel pleasure again without the use of substances.
MAT has proven to be clinically effective and to significantly reduce the need for inpatient detoxification services for these individuals. MAT provides a more comprehensive, individually tailored program of medication and behavioral therapy. SLVBHG has been providing MAT services form it’s brick and mortar sites since 2015.
MAT is proven to help people stay drug-free and progress in their recovery. Expanding this much-needed service to our SLV communities will increase accessibility and help remove the transportation barrier.
SLVBHG will be hosting a series of red ribbon cuttings and will allow the public to tour the unit. Please follows on Facebook at facebook.com/slvbhg and our website at slvbhg.org/mobile for more information, the unit schedule and red cutting event announcements.