6 Tips for Finding Buprenorphine/Naloxone Treatment in Alameda County, CA
Buprenorphine/naloxone, more commonly known by popular brand name Suboxone, is the evidence-backed treatment for opioid addiction. Unfortunately, in Alameda County, CA, and all over the United States, despite being in the midst of an opioid crisis, regulations require specially trained physicians to administer to Suboxone treatment. The resulting irony is that it’s easier to prescribe opioid painkillers than it is to prescribe recovery medication like Suboxone or methadone.
Luckily, California (and Alameda County) are at the forefront of the nation in working towards low-barrier buprenorphine treatment, which means prescribing buprenorphine to those with opioid addiction when they’re ready. So if you’re struggling with opioid addiction, ready for help, and live in Alameda County, you’re better off than much of the nation, no matter how bad you feel right now.
Here are 6 strategies for finding Suboxone treatment in Alameda County:
1. Check out Workit Health’s online Suboxone treatment program.
After a single in-person visit in Lafayette, California, members of the Workit Health program continue care via videoconference with their doctor. For a flat weekly fee, members receive Suboxone treatment supervised by a clinician, 24/7 messaging with a counselor, weekly online recovery groups, and online addiction courses that teach you how to identify your triggers and handle cravings. Workit Health partners with BAART and the state of California to offer recovery grants to qualifying individuals.
2. In an opioid withdrawal crisis, be aware of Highland Hospital’s emergency department.
Most emergency departments will not offer much in an emergency situation. This is unfortunate, as anyone who has gone to the emergency room in withdrawal understands a couple things: 1) You’re usually there seeking help and a lifestyle change, choosing to not contact your dealer and turn to medical professionals instead and 2) Withdrawal sucks, really really bad.
Dr. Andrew Herring at Highland Hospital understands that when someone comes to the emergency department for help with opioid addiction, it’s a huge opportunity for change. His buprenorphine program in an ER is cutting edge, and has been featured on the front page of the New York Times. If you are in withdrawal, Highland Hospital is hoping to turn the tides and get emergency departments everywhere to be more helpful.
3. Look into methadone clinics like BAART and H.A.A.R.T.
Most commonly known as methadone clinics, places like BAART also offer buprenorphine treatment. Although programs vary from clinic to clinic, many ask that patients come every day while beginning treatment. If you are concerned about taking Suboxone home with you or keeping it all yourself (it is a mild opioid), this type of clinic that offers on-site dosing can be beneficial.
4. Ask your current network of providers if they are waivered to prescribe Suboxone, or will consider getting the waiver to prescribe Suboxone.
Buprenorphine/naloxone requires a special waiver to prescribe, not only in Alameda County but all over the United States. (The irony here — pain medication requires no special waiver!) But we’re in the midst of an opioid crisis, and it’s time for primary care physicians to step up to the plate and begin treating opioid addiction (or as the doctors call it, opioid use disorder) like the medical issue it is.
If your primary care doctor isn’t willing to get waivered, ask if they can refer you to someone who is. If your primary care doctor refers you to an inpatient rehab, ask them if the inpatient rehab will prescribe you Suboxone, which shows to cut death rates from overdose in half, and reduce relapse rates. If they’re recommending you to an inpatient rehab that will put you through a cold turkey detox, say no thanks.
5. Submit your information to TreatmentMatch.org to find Suboxone doctors in Alameda County currently accepting patients.
Treatmentmatch.org is a buprenorphine provider matching system run by the The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment (the NAABT for short). It’s a little bit like a dating site for buprenorphine treatment, minus the romance. You put in your information anonymously, and a bit about your treatment history. Your information is then sent to buprenorphine prescribers, and they can choose whether or not to message you back. You can then look at their information, decide if they’d be a good fit for you, and call them to make an appointment if you feel they’re a match.
This is a great resource because regulations put a limit on the amount of patients that clinicians who prescribe buprenorphine products can have at a single time. This is why you might call several places and each of them won’t be taking new patients, or will have a waitlist. Treatmentmatch.org eliminates this issue by having providers actively seeking new Suboxone patients reach out to you.
6. Find providers in your area using the Suboxone.com directory.
The Suboxone.com directory is another way to find doctors prescribing Suboxone in Alameda County. Head to Suboxone.com and put in your zip code to find a provider near you. The drawback here is that not all providers may be accepting new patients, or actively prescribing Suboxone. It’s up to providers to update their listings on the directory. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t an important resource.
Even in an area as progressive as Alameda County, finding Suboxone treatment can be frustrating. Especially when you’re in the midst of addiction, the last thing you want to be thinking about is if a doctor is accepting new patients. But the good news is that California has a solid system in place to help those struggling with opioid addiction find care, and when you’re ready to make a change, help is here.
If you feel overwhelmed trying to make an appointment, ask a trusted friend or family member who knows what you’re going through to help you make some calls. Or set a timer on your phone for an hour where you sit down with a notebook, a pen, your computer, and try to schedule an appointment. That first appointment can improve the rest of your life. You’re worth putting in the work.
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