How Do I Choose an Opioid Addiction Doctor?

Written by Buprenorphine Doctors

In this new year, you might be on the cusp of choosing opioid addiction treatment, maybe even for your loved one. But what should you know? Who can you trust to help your loved one recover themselves from opioid addiction?

We’ll answer that question for you. But first, we’ll give you the background on the opioid addiction treatments called “medically-assisted treatments.”

What is Medically-Assisted Treatment?

Also called MAT, it’s the evidence-based medical treatment used to treat opioid addiction. It pairs medications (like buprenorphine or methadone) with emotional and behavioral therapies to guide patients into opioid addiction recovery. You can learn more about medically-assisted treatment at our site’s list of opioid treatment explanations.

But the crucial part of MATs is that you receive it under medical supervision, from licensed doctors.

Who are Licensed Opioid Doctors?

These are the medical professionals who do the supervising of MAT. This supervision includes a few parts: treatment planning, patient intake, medical detoxification, opioid addiction treatment, and continued treatment. We have more articles which explain opioid addiction treatment programs, and you should feel free to read more. We also have our “Doctor’s Note” articles, where you can read about the opioid doctors listed on Buprenorphine Doctors: where you can find them, what they can offer you, and what makes their opioid treatment stand out from the pack.

Here, we’re going to explain what opioid doctors do, and how you can tell whether they’re trustworthy.

Opioid Doctors are Involved

These are the professionals who help you begin opioid addiction treatments plans, which means planning the program according to your physical and emotional needs. They’re also the ones who help you continue your opioid addiction plan once you’ve left treatment, which means planning your life in recovery according to your ongoing needs.

Opioid doctors oversee how you receive your MAT medications (like buprenorphine, methadone, or naltrexone), and what sorts of individual and peer therapy you receive. They ought to be involved with your opioid treatment from the beginning, so that you receive the best chance for deep-seated, long-lasting opioid recovery.

But opioid doctors should also know what they’re doing.

Opioid Doctors are Qualified

You should take note of what certifications any opioid doctors has up on his or her wall. Here are four counseling credentials which you should expect:

  1. Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
  2. Certified Addictions Counselor (CAC)
  3. Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC)
  4. Certified Co-Occurring Disorders Counselor (CCDC)

These qualifications tell you which doctors have already met the standards for opioid recovery counseling—that is, which ones can help you begin and continue your own recovery.

But opioid doctors must qualify for more than counseling. Remember, that’s only part of MAT. The other parts involve the medications, like buprenorphine. Because these medications involve a slight risk of addiction, doctors must meet certain regulations to insure they prescribe and give them to patients safely. The 2018 SUPPORT Act provides these standards while also expanding MAT access for those who need it.

First, it outlines who can legally provide buprenorphine in a non-hospital setting, such as an office. That includes:

  • Clinical Nurse Specialists
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists
  • Certified Nurse Midwives

For opioid doctors specifically, the SUPPORT Act provides two conditions:

  1. The doctor has an American Board of Preventive Medicine or American Board of Psychology and Neurology certification in addiction medicine or addiction psychiatry, or
  2. The doctor gives MAT in a “qualified practice setting” (meaning that their practice has insurance coverage, gives medical access, complies with state drug regulations, and uses up-to-date medical records storage).

There’s plenty of legal jargon here, but don’t let it put you off. All these qualifications exist for a reason—to make sure opioid addiction treatment improves across the country.

What Now?

Take a look. Get a sense of what a responsible and qualified opioid doctor does. Make sure that you don’t ever settle for anyone less, since your opioid recovery chances depend on the doctor’s efforts as much as your own.

And, to be frank, not all opioid doctors or opioid treatment clinics will have your best interests in mind. They may practice more interest in your treatment payments than in your treatment itself. All our recommendations here boil down to this: look carefully and discern who will actually help you or your loved one.

You can find more resources for your search on Buprenorphine Doctors. In fact, we’ve got an entire directory of opioid doctors who meet all the requirements we’ve explained. Drop by our Doctor’s Note articles for a few spotlights, if you can. Visit the site today and learn how we can serve you in your opioid addiction recovery.

Photo by Vidal Balielo Jr. from Pexels

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