The launch of a Suboxone treatment program at International Community Health Center (ICHS) expands local capacity to treat opioid addiction to help address the rampant abuse of heroin and prescription pain medication in King County.
ICHS medical providers and pharmacies add to a limited number in the area that are currently qualified to prescribe Suboxone, an FDA-approved medication that treats opioid dependence. Patients take Suboxone home, like any other prescription medication. Suboxone’s chemical composition helps avoid painful withdrawal.
Randon Aea, ICHS behavioral health manager, said a medical assessment, drug screening and education about the program are required for all participants, each of whom is also encouraged to seek substance abuse treatment and counseling. Patients initially see their ICHS medical provider once per week to ensure they are taking the appropriate amount of Suboxone. Once at the right dose, they may require less frequent visits.
King County has made confronting opioid addiction a priority, announcing in January 2017 that it is moving forward on recommendations presented by a task force of experts that include prevention, increasing access to treatment on demand and reducing the number of fatal overdoses. In 2016, 220 people in King County died from opioid overdose. According to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab, the percentage of King County drug seizures testing positive for heroin has increased six-fold from 2008 to 2015.
ICHS’ Suboxone Treatment Program is available at its Holly Park, Chinatown-International District and Shoreline clinic locations and pharmacies, and will soon be available at ICHS’ Bellevue Clinic. Most insurance companies, including Medicaid, cover Suboxone treatment. ICHS’ commitment to health care for all, regardless of ability to pay, includes a sliding scale fee for those without insurance.