Building on federal, state, and local attention that has focused efforts on combatting opioids, the Center for Care Innovations, with funding from the California Department of Health Care Services, is launching a second wave of its Addiction Treatment Starts Here: Primary Care collaborative.

Addiction Treatment Starts Here: Primary Care, Wave 2 provides methods and tools to guide primary care health centers through designing new or expanding existing medication-assisted treatment programs in the primary care setting with a focus on opioid use disorder.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is one approach to address and manage opioid use disorder (OUD). It combines psychological and behavioral therapy with FDA-approved medications, including ­methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone. Evidence demonstrates that patients with OUD who use MAT reduce their risk of all-cause mortality by half. Yet despite overwhelming evidence that administration of methadone, naltrexone and buprenorphine are considered the gold standard of treatment, only 10 percent of people across the country receive this specialty treatment for OUD.

Health centers are natural collaborators for identifying substance use disorders and for coordinating effective treatment and recovery services. Primary care is usually the first point of contact for identifying and treating behavioral health conditions, including substance use disorders; therefore, health centers are well positioned to screen, triage, and treat addiction. However, while patients may receive behavioral therapy and counseling on medications to treat OUD, they typically do not have access to MAT.

This second wave of the collaborative focused on the primary care setting aims to further increase access to MAT across California.