Heartland House Featured in The San Diego Union-Tribune

by Mar 7, 2018Industry News0 comments

Executive Director of Heartland House, Robert Cook, was recently interviewed by the San Diego Union-Tribune in an article regarding methadone as a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) option. Methadone and other MAT options such as buprenorphine or Suboxone have gone through quite the roller coaster of the level of acceptance over the decades as addiction and addiction treatment have continued to shift over time.

Read the excerpt below that features Heartland House, and read the entire article down below.

Shifting attitudes

In San Diego County, a host of recovery programs, including residential facilities, are expected to soon open up for current methadone patients. And for new clients, medication-assisted treatment including methadone will have to be offered as an option to an addict’s recovery plan, according to Alfredo Aguirre, director of the county’s Behavioral Health Services.


“These are clinically complex problems that need complex solutions,” said Dr. Nicole Esposito, assistant clinical director for the county’s Behavioral Health Services. “We need all the tools in the toolbox and can’t ascribe to only one methodology. We have to look at clients individually and see what their needs are.”


For now, the change will pertain only to those receiving insurance benefits through Medi-Cal, although many see it as opening the door to wider change.


The final plan for the county’s new treatment system, which includes other advances in managing care, will be presented to the county Board of Supervisors on March 13, with implementation to begin July 1.


It’s a transition that Heartland House, a 28-bed men’s residential facility, started making a few years ago.


“We had to open our vision up to the real history of what we’re doing,” said Robert Cook, executive director of the Redwood Village facility. “We were at one time an abstinence-based program.” The facility just recently hired a medical director, he said.


“This (shift in treatment) gives us an opportunity to help a group of people who traditionally have not been served, and we have to remember that.”


The state is also implementing a grant-funded program — modeled after one in Vermont — that hopes to expand medication-assisted treatment, including methadone, to more than 20,000 opioid addicts across the state. Several treatment providers are participating in San Diego.

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