Addressing the Opioid Epidemic: Putting Vision Into Action
Opioid addiction is the public health crisis of our time. In Maine and New Hampshire, more than one person a day dies
as the result of an overdose. “Opioid addiction is a complex, chronic disease,” said Jessika Morin, MD, a family medicine
provider at Southern Maine Health Care (SMHC) and member of the MaineHealth Opioid Implementation Steering
Committee, which was formed in 2016 to address the crisis.
“Recovery isn’t a straight path,” added Morin. “Medications like
suboxone help those suffering from opioid addiction feel normal
so they can then develop the coping skills through counseling
needed to maintain their sobriety. Both providers and patients
need a lot of real-time support to be successful. The IMAT
program delivers intensive outpatient therapy (known as the
hub) from Maine Behavioral Healthcare, followed by ongoing
treatment (called the spoke) from local primary care practices
like SMHC Family Medicine in Saco. As patients move through
recovery, we collaborate with expert providers to help determine
what the patient needs in the moment.”
Dr. Morin helped establish the program in York County after
seeing firsthand how it changes lives. One of her patients, Andy
Allen of Falmouth, grew up in a loving family. Because of degenerative disc disease, Andy was prescribed opioids to help
him cope with chronic pain. Over the course of 10 years he used increasing amounts of the narcotic, which Andy got
through prescriptions and on the street. But his life gradually fell apart. After trying to stop by himself, Andy reached out
to Maine Medical Center for help and was referred to the IMAT program in Biddeford. Since getting into the program,
Andy has a full-time job and is getting back to activities he used to enjoy, like weight lifting.
To date, more than 900 people have been treated for opioid use disorder through four hubs and multiple spokes at
primary care practices located in each region within the MaineHealth system. In addition, MaineHealth’s three affiliate
hospitals also provide IMAT for patients within their hospital systems. With the success of the model, another hub is
being established in Portland later this year. “It takes a village to treat opioid use disorder,” said Dr. Morin, “and the IMAT
program provides the framework clients and providers need to be successful.”
* Weiss, R.D.; Potter, J.S.; Griffin, M.L. et al. Long-term outcomes from the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical
Trials Network Prescription Opioid Addiction Treatment Study. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 150:112-119, 2015.
Read the entire 2018 MaineHealth Annual Report
You are invited to download and read the 2018 MaineHealth Annual Report.
Read the entire 2017 MaineHealth Annual Report
You are invited to download and read the 2017 MaineHealth Annual Report.