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Jamelia Hand On Ending the Opioid Crisis, Part One

Jamelia Hand MHS CADC CODP is the CEO of Vantage Clinical Consulting LLC. In a recent episode of The Rehab Podcast, I interviewed Jamelia on the topic of Medication-Assisted Treatment of opioid use disorder and how to make this proven treatment more accessible and standardized. The following is a transcript of our interview. You can listen to the entire interview here. Or, you can download it here.

Part One

Mark Leeds: Welcome to The Rehab on The Mental Health News Radio Network. I am Dr. Mark Leeds and I will be your host. Join me in exploring the world of addiction treatment, how can we improve the ways that we help individuals to overcome addiction? The goal of treatment is to save lives and help people to get back on track to a path towards success and happiness in life.

Mark Leeds: Today on The Rehab Podcast my guest is Jamelia Hand, and she is a Master of Health Science, has a certification in addiction counseling, co-occurring disorders, is working on her doctorate, and is also a consultant for medication-assisted treatment, and has been doing this for many years. She’s an author, a speaker and has worked with many people in the field of addiction treatment, and specifically in the field of medication-assisted treatment, and has helped many people to get into this industry. And I’d like to hear more about it. Welcome to the show Jamelia.

Jamelia Hand: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me and inviting me. I appreciate it.

Mark Leeds: So, yeah, if you could tell us exactly what do you do currently in your consulting work? Are you working with individual doctors or treatment programs or both?

Jamelia Hand: Well, in a nutshell, I provide expert directions to healthcare organizations, physicians and other professional firms on opioid addiction problems. So, I’ve worked with physicians at substance abuse disorder treatment centers and corporate organizations to reduce opioid problems in their communities.

Mark Leeds: We were introduced by Nick Jaworski who’s a really interesting person, he has a great podcast also, right?

Jamelia Hand: Yeah.

Mark Leeds: I’d heard something really interesting at the end of one of his episodes where the guest had mentioned how useful it would be for treatment programs to integrate methadone maintenance treatment or at least methadone treatment into the programs which almost seems like an unusual thing. You think of methadone as being a separate thing. They have methadone maintenance clinics and then you have your regular treatment programs that are usually abstinence-based and some of them are now integrating buprenorphine treatment.

Mark Leeds: The reasoning was that with these new fentanyl analogs being found in heroin and it turns out a lot of people are using these stuff, and in a lot of cases being unaware they’re using it, it’s very difficult to transition onto medication treatment. And that might be a useful thing to have methadone treatment in a treatment facility. Is that something you’ve dealt with of advising people on that?

Jamelia Hand: You know what? Not so much with methadone. Even though I am able to do it, most of my work has been with buprenorphine. What I found is that physicians especially once they’re trained to get their waiver, they have a really hard time transitioning from training to treatment. So I help them to build the skills, the systems, and the mindsets to go from training to treating as quickly as possible.

Mark Leeds: I had that experience where I went to a course. It was after my original certification, I went for a number of years without doing much with that and then I went to a refresher course which a lot of the people were there for their first time doing their eight hour certification and I was just sitting in on the same lectures to refresh and get updated. And they do give the impression that it’s a little bit easier to get into the field than it really is.

Mark Leeds: They talk about you just open your doors and you’ll fill up right away with great patients and you just have to help them out and follow the direction that they give you during that short eight-hour course. It turns out the… getting patients, at least where I am, getting patients to even come in is not all that easy and getting the patients that are really going to, that are really motivated for success is not easy. It’s not as easy as they make it sound in the course.

Jamelia Hand: No, not at all. I like to say that the recipe has been add water and stir, and it simply has not been an easy thing. Honestly, if a physician is providing a quality care service, it could take up to 17 steps from pre-screening to actually getting a patient to the maintenance space in their treatment for opioid use disorder.

Mark Leeds: So, now suppose that a doctor is opening a clinic and they want to get into this field, and so they go, they take the course, maybe they do the course online and they’re now certified and ready to go. And at that point, they have no idea what the next step is. They don’t even… all they know is that they’re allowed to prescribe buprenorphine in the form of Suboxone or Zubsolv or even Subutex. They know they’re allowed to prescribe it to patients for substance use disorder and they know little more than that.

Mark Leeds: And there’s also that fear of the possibility of an audit of their practice. And now, they could contact you to help them to consult and help them get started. What would be the next step at that point?

Jamelia Hand: Well, we have basically three areas of the service that we provide. And we can work with a physician in any one of these areas, or we can work with them and work simultaneously across the areas. So the first thing we’d have to do if they’re brand new is we would need to go through what it takes to establish a Buprenorphine practice.

Jamelia Hand: The first thing that I do is what’s called a practice readiness assessment. And I think it’s important to understand where people are and why they do what they do. That will set the tone for how patients will be treated and how successful they’ll be in treating patients.

Please stay tuned for the continuation of this transcript of an incredible interview.

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