WAREHAM (CBS) – One out of every four teenagers admits to misusing or abusing, a prescription drug.
It’s a dangerous road that can lead to addiction. To prevent and treat drug-use in kids there is now a first-of-its-kind program tackling the issue head-on right at the pediatrician’s office.
At Wareham Pediatrics, the Cat in the Hat welcomes young patients and route markers provide a guide to the exam rooms.
But the practice itself could be creating a road map to prevent and treat addiction in kids.
“It was a really helpless feeling to sometimes see kids and families struggling with drug, alcohol, or even worse opiate use and not have the tools,” Dr. Jason Reynolds told WBZ-TV.
Wareham Pediatrics now has those tools.
It is believed to be the only pediatric practice in Massachusetts offering drug counseling and medical treatment right in their own office.
“We’re thinking the closer we can get it to home, the more people we can reach,” said Shannon Mountain-Ray.
To make this a reality, Mountain-Ray, a clinical social worker at Boston Children’s Hospital now spends part of her week in the Wareham office. The idea for this pilot program came from the Pediatric Physicians’ Organization at Children’s.
Mountain-Ray is available for counseling sessions with kids, and works right alongside Dr. Jason Reynolds and Dr. Steve Mendes.
“Anytime we find somebody who has been using drugs or experimenting with drugs or alcohol or tobacco we ask them if they would be interested in seeing Shannon. And it’s amazing the very high frequency at which people say ‘yes’ they would like to,” said Dr. Mendes.
Since the program began in January, Mountain-Ray has received 19 referrals. Thirteen of those kids have continued some type of substance-use counseling with her and 2 were prescribed Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction.
“I’ve been really encouraged when you see how effective Suboxone is,” said Dr. Reynolds.
“I think medication-assisted treatment is really important in dealing with the opioid crisis,” added Mountain-Ray. “And having it readily available in their communities with trusting providers is really critical.”
Despite that critical need, only 3-percent of doctors in Massachusetts have taken the extra training necessary to become certified to prescribe this life-saving medication.
“In terms of a treatment option, I think the idea of having more providers be able to provide medication to assist and to have the counseling piece as well is really a game changer,” said Mountain-Ray.
This pilot program is funded by a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation. It will expand to Bridgewater Pediatrics next year.
The hope is by the time the pilot program wraps up in two years these practices will have figured out the best way for other offices to replicate this model without the need for outside funding.
To find a doctor certified to prescribe Suboxone click here.
If you or know someone dealing with substance abuse and addiction, click here for a list of state and community resources offered to those seeking recovery.
This is the ninth piece in a series of WBZ-TV reports on confronting the opioid crisis in Massachusetts.