Community Health Center of Cape Cod now offering Medically Assisted Treatment to the Public

Jen Monaghan, RN and Angela Charles of the MAT team at Community Health Center of Cape Cod

For the first time, individuals who do not receive primary care at Community Health Center of Cape Cod will have access to the Heath Center’s structured and safe outpatient, Medication- Assisted Treatment (MAT) Program. By doing this, Community Health Center of Cape Cod hopes to triple the amount of people served.

Our community is in desperate need of services that address addiction, and, in particular, the opioid epidemic.

Since 2012, heroin use and mortality from overdose have nearly doubled on Cape Cod. This increase lead to former Governor Deval Patrick in 2014 to declare opioid abuse an epidemic. In the last 10 years, 6,700 people on Cape Cod have died from opioid abuse and an estimated 8% of Cape residents are addicted to alcohol.

Community Health Center of Cape Cod has a unique approach to recovery. They choose to not just tackle the addiction, but the entire health of an individual through wraparound services. With offices in Bourne, Mashpee, and Falmouth, they create a personalized approach to every patient, by looking at the root causes. “The doctors are here, the behavioral health is here, and the addiction is here. We all share the same records. So someone entering the addiction program is able to work with a team that has a full picture of the need and will design a specialized service plan,” explained Karen Gardner, CEO at Community Health Center of Cape Cod.

Patients who don’t receive their primary care at CHC are now able to receive recovery services through Medication-Assisted Treatment and an Early Recovery Class. MAT involves the use of Vivitrol or Suboxone to treat individuals. Vivitrol blocks the pleasurable feelings produced by using opioids and alcohol. Suboxone helps to diminish cravings, does not produce a high, and blocks or reduces the effect of heroin and other opioids.

Participants in MAT are supervised and guided throughout the process. All participants will go through an induction period to ensure any medication given is tolerable and will have weekly meetings with a nurse. Participants are also required to attend a weekly Early Recovery Class.

“At first, there may be some reluctance on the part of the participant, but as they go along it becomes a support system. Everyone in the class is going or has gone through the same thing. They end up swapping phone numbers and relying on each other. It’s more of a social setting. They know they aren’t going through it alone,” said Yvonne Nickerson, Addictions Program Manager at Community Health Center of Cape Cod.

This approach of MAT combined with clinical and group support has been well received and has yielded results. “We develop a real relationship with all the patients. They know us. They open up to us. They are very honest with themselves and with us. This allows them to come back and talk to us,” said Nickerson.

Indeed, some patients after completing treatment continue coming to group once a week or once a month to share their story and continue to support others who are at different parts of recovery. “We

have one patient who has been with us for 3 years. He’s never relapsed. He has a family, a good job, and he still checks in and attends class once a month,” said Nickerson.

Community Health Center of Cape Cod’s tailored personal care supports a person through recovery on all levels: physically, mentally, and emotionally. “Addiction is so individual that it’s going to need to be an individual recovery path. We want to create a program for that individual and their family,” said Gardner.

Find out how Community Health Center of Cape Cod can help you or someone you love. They are more than happy to answer any questions and discuss the variety of classes and groups that are available. Whether you are currently battling an addiction or your family has been affected by someone with an addiction, Community Health Center of Cape Cod is there for you. Call them today at 508-477-7090 or visit their website to find out more.

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