This article was posted on the blog of a physician, Jana Burson, who works with patients struggling with addiction.
Before reading the full article, you should know that the author frequently refers to "Opiate Treatment Programs" (OTP) — this is her shorthand for methadone clinics. She is drawing a distinction between such clinics, and the type of medication-assisted addiction treatment she practices, which is an office-based treatment with suboxone.
"I have a patient in my office-based practice whom I see only every two months. If you had told me ten years ago, when I first met him, that he would become a stable and productive member of society, I would have scoffed. If you told me he would someday have over three years of freedom from active addiction, I would have rolled my eyes in disbelief.
I think of this person when I’m tempted to write off any patient as hopeless.
He was one of the worst. I first met him when I worked at an opioid treatment program (OTP) over ten years ago. He was often impaired and belligerent. At least once he had to be transferred to another OTP, due to aggressive behavior towards the staff and other patients. He was belligerent with me too, and I dreaded my appointments with him. He had a terrible cocaine addiction, and almost all his drug screens were positive for cocaine and benzodiazepines. On several occasions I referred him to a local inpatient program, but he left against medical advice or was asked to leave.
A few years after I left that OTP, he called my office-based practice to ask if he could switch to buprenorphine. The woman making appointments scheduled him with me.
The next week, looking at my schedule, I remember saying, “Oh HELL no. I’m not seeing this guy. He’s not going to stabilize in an office-base practice.” But he had already paid to hold his appointment slot, so I felt obligated to see him. My plan was to tell him he wasn’t appropriate for an office-based program, and to recommend inpatient treatment, as I had so many times in the past."
Click here to read the full article on janaburson.wordpress.com …