Pat Stilen, MSW
Co-Director, Mid-America ATTC
|Kansas City, home to the Mid-America ATTC at the |
University of Missouri Kansas City
A decade ago, few people knew about the array of medications available to support persons in recovery from substance use disorders (SUDs). In the judicial and corrections arenas, if persons coming into jails and prisons were on medication to help mitigate drug cravings, these medications were immediately stopped. Having worked in a field where abstinence was the gold standard for clients, counseling staff from entry-level to supervisors were often suspicious about such medications, and sometimes downright resistant.
Many physicians didn’t get pre-service training in substance use disorders, didn’t see the need to know, and, frankly, didn’t care to work with “those” people. Policymakers were hesitant to add yet another layer of education, treatment and expenses to an already complex and siloed system. In order for the delivery system for SUD medications to be effective, not just the counseling profession, but all four legs of this stool, would need to work together: medical, behavioral health, judicial, and policymakers. There was an urgency to coordinate these groups as the opioid epidemic grew....counseling staff from entry level to supervisors were often suspicious about such medications, and sometimes downright resistant.