Spectrum Health Systems’ pioneering mobile treatment unit has made promising strides since it began service in February. Seven days a week, this innovative vehicle delivers addiction treatment medication and other clinical resources to the Central Massachusetts residents that need them most.
Years ago, the concept of using a vehicle to meet addiction treatment needs and dispense medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) may have seemed out of the ordinary. But today, with opioid overdose deaths continuing to surge, and substances like fentanyl and xylazine becoming increasingly common, treatment providers have sought more innovative measures to meet people where they are and help them pursue recovery.
Introducing the Mobile Treatment Unit
Since its introduction, Spectrum’s mobile treatment unit has served individuals at the Southern Middlesex Opportunity Center (SMOC) and St. John’s in Worcester every day of the week. In the six months since it launched, the unit has served more than 291 people, sometimes providing medication for as many as 89 patients in a day. And even more encouraging, 78.4% of these individuals have remained in treatment since they began – an impressive retention rate.
In addition to providing medication, our clinical team is able to dispense resources like Narcan and fentanyl test strips, which can be lifesaving tools in the fight to prevent deadly overdoses. The treatment team is also able to inspect common ailments like abscesses and xylazine wounds, as well as help arrange admission to detox or other local treatment services when needed.
Halting the Devastation of Addiction
The impact these services are having can be seen in the lives of those receiving care. Many people who have attempted treatment in the past but were unable to maintain their recovery are finding success with the help of the mobile unit and its services. Unhoused individuals who don’t have reliable access to transportation are able to receive treatment safely and consistently in locations they regularly frequent.
One patient who receives care from the mobile unit originally sought services through Spectrum’s outpatient treatment program in the fall of 2021. From then until the spring of 2023, he was absent for daily treatments on more than 50 occasions. Since he began receiving his medication from the mobile unit this spring, he has missed only one dose. This substantial improvement in the consistency of daily treatment greatly reduces the risk of overdose for him and many others.
Striving to Bring Addiction Treatment to the Communities that Need It
As word continues to spread and more individuals get on the road to recovery, we continue to look for ways to expand our services. We’re currently in the process of adding a third stop along the mobile unit’s service rotation and working on plans to extend its hours of operation.
At Spectrum, we understand that there are often small windows of opportunity where people are willing to accept treatment. Many times, if someone in the throes of opioid withdrawal doesn’t have immediate access to MOUD, they feel they have no other choice but to return to the illicit substances that are readily available. By making this life-saving addiction treatment medication more accessible, our goal is to meet people where they are and help them find a healthy path forward.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction or a substance use disorder, call Spectrum Health Systems today at 1-877-MyRehab.