Establishing a Relationship with Mental Health Professionals and Facilities
Before Starting a Practice
DATA 2000 requires buprenorphine prescribers to be capable of referring patients to supportive services for psychosocial therapy. Psychosocial services are a crucial component in successful addiction treatment.
Before starting a buprenorphine practice, you should assemble a list of treatment providers in your area where you can refer patients for psychosocial treatment. SAMHSA maintains a searchable database of substance abuse treatment facilities and providers to help you get started (see link below). You can also ask other buprenorphine prescribers in your local area.
Verification is not required to substantiate that you have the ability to refer patients to resource. However, in the case of compliance checks, the DEA will verify that counseling is part of your practice plan and ask how you are monitoring your patients to ensure compliance.
Guidelines Regarding Referral to Psychosocial Treatment
Consider the following guidelines regarding referral to psychosocial treatment:
- Discuss the importance of psychosocial treatment with patients prior to referral. Because buprenorphine counters withdrawal and "begins working" rapidly, many patients believe the problem is purely physiological and do not follow through with their psychosocial treatment (Meier & Patkar, 2007). Consider making psychosocial counseling a treatment requirement for your buprenorphine patients.
- Make sure that your requirement for psychosocial treatment is explained to patients prior to buprenorphine induction and review the requirements periodically so that everyone is clear of the expectations and responsibilities.
- Remember to submit all needed treatment information when making a referral, but keep your state's confidentiality laws in mind.
- Ask treatment facilities to keep you updated on the patient's status and progress throughout buprenorphine treatment. You may need patients to sign a specific consent form to allow this communication.