Vivitrol is for the brain and 12 steps are for the soul: Building staff buy-in for medication-assisted treatment Advancing Recovery Florida

Submitted by: 01/13/2011 by NIATx NPO

Spectrum Programs, Inc. (SPI) and Miami Behavioral Health Center provide community mental health, substance abuse treatment, and prevention services throughout Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. The two agencies have served more than 200,000 individuals. SPI was one of three organizations in the Advancing Recovery Florida partnership that aimed to increase use of Vivitrol® for alcohol dependence.

The agency discovered that many clients resisted using medication because of advice from the residential treatment para-professionals. Many of these staff members were in recovery themselves and firmly believed in abstaining from all drugs. The SPI team arranged for a special training workshop for the para-professional staff, focusing on Vivitrol® as a medication that treats addiction as a brain disease.

After the training, the staff were more accepting of medication-assisted treatment. As one staff member put it, “Vivitrol is for the brain and the 12 steps are for the soul.”

Rhonda Bohs is vice president of Banyan Health Systems, a partner to SPI. She said, “We were focused on educating clients and the clinical professional staff. By not training the para-professionals and the informal leaders, we were working against ourselves.”

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