How to Integrate Pharmacotherapy for Alcohol Use at Your Mental Health Clinic

Mental health professionals smiling and laughing during a staff training meeting, Photo by Luis Alvarez
Mental health professionals smiling and laughing during a staff training meeting, Photo by Luis Alvarez

Toolkit

How to Integrate Pharmacotherapy for Alcohol Use at Your Mental Health Clinic

A step-by-step guide for screening and treating co-occurring alcohol use disorder with pharmacotherapy in mental health clinics

Start providing co-occurring disorder (COD) care. Start improving client outcomes.

Most people with co-occurring substance use disorders never get the high-quality care they need to recover.

But as a mental health clinic leader, you can change that.

Break down care silos

Integrating medications for CODs at your clinic can help more clients achieve better outcomes.

There are many reasons clients with a COD don’t receive comprehensive help for their problems, including logistical barriers, undiagnosed substance use disorders, lack of access to evidence-based treatments, and stigma.

And although research shows that medications like naltrexone can be an effective treatment for clients with an alcohol use disorder, pharmacotherapy is still significantly underused.

By integrating pharmacotherapy with high-quality psychosocial treatment, you can provide access to effective treatments for members of a vulnerable and underserved population in a setting where they are most likely to access care.

Collaborate to offer COD care

This toolkit has two goals:

  1. to support the delivery of effective, evidence-based pharmacotherapy for clients with co-occurring alcohol use disorder, or COD-alcohol. (A future iteration will include treatment for opioid use disorder.)
  2. to guide the COD care implementation process at your clinic.

To get started, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with the steps and resources available throughout this toolkit. Then, follow the four steps outlined in the toolkit to help your clinic create a vision, develop a workflow, implement care, and measure your program’s quality.

Along the way, we’ll provide the resources you need to stay organized, on track, and motivated to make a difference.

  • Who

    This toolkit is a guide specifically for mental health Clinic Leaders to create an infrastructure for COD screening and treatment at your clinic.

  • What

    There are 9.2 million people living with a COD in the United States, and nearly 92 percent of people with a COD do not get treatment for both disorders.

  • Why

    A holistic treatment plan that includes pharmacotherapy is the best chance clients have at recovery. Your clinic can make that happen.

Learn more about COD-alcohol care

The Team

COD-alcohol care is everyone’s responsibility at your clinic. These members of your Treatment Team will play an important role in the day-to-day delivery of COD-alcohol care.

  • Clinic Leaders

    Provide resources and insight to make COD-alcohol care a reality

  • Primary Clinicians

    Guide the client from intake to follow-up

  • Prescribers

    Contribute to the client’s treatment plan and prescribe medication

  • Nursing Staff

    Assess for withdrawal and may deliver medications prescribed to clients

  • Substance Use Disorder Counselors

    Support the client by providing resources and counseling

  • Peer Support Specialists

    Speak from personal experience to support the client

Learn more about team roles and responsibilities