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Placer County is developing a new approach to addiction treatment that treats addiction as a disease, and coordinates addiction services across county departments to provide consistent care in support of recovery.

More than 200 Placer County staff and community health providers gathered July 20 in Rocklin for a workshop on this approach substance use services training from world-renowned addiction specialist Dr. David Mee-Lee.

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Mee-Lee, one of the founders of the most highly regarded approach to substance use care, presented an approach he helped design, described in the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s book, “The ASAM Criteria – Treatment for Addictive, Substance-Related, and Co-Occurring Conditions.”

Because substance use challenges are addressed by a number of county departments, ranging from law enforcement to public health to the courts, the county is taking a system-wide approach so departments can have a common language and practice for assessing, treatment planning, care coordination and determining the appropriate level of care for low-income people with substance use issues.

“It’s exciting that Placer County is really looking at a new organized delivery system that ensures a good continuum of care for people with addiction,” said Mee-Lee. “This program will increase access to care as well as use resources efficiently to get outcomes we all want.”

Mee-Lee aims to help county staff and community health providers better understand the ASAM approach to assessment and treatment planning and how to implement this new approach within Placer County.

“This is a great opportunity to change Placer County’s substance use service system into an organized delivery system,” said Maureen Bauman, director of Placer County Adult System of Care. “This pilot program will give us all the same perspective, common language and terms which is critical as we serve the people we share in our systems.

The workshop included three learning objectives: reviewing ASAM underlying principles and concepts; applying ASAM criteria multidimensional assessment, treatment planning and care management; and discussing program and systems changes necessary to implement the spirit and content of the ASAM criteria.

In August 2015, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved a waiver that authorizes California to test a new paradigm for the organized delivery of health care services for Medicaid-eligible individuals with a substance use disorder. County staff plans to submit their plan of an organized delivery system for substance use services to the state later this year and anticipates approval sometime in 2017.

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