Save the UAB Addiction Recovery Program

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In the midst of a nationwide opioid-abuse epidemic, the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital is considering broad, sweeping changes to their Addiction Recovery Program that would undermine efforts to effectively combat the opiate crisis in Birmingham, and Alabama at large. UAB ARP, in its current form, is a first-class treatment program that serves as the only resource for cutting edge addiction treatment and individualized patient care without private pay in the state of Alabama. 

In a statement to local media, the hospital said they are "...currently exploring further opportunities to grow our programs, especially for the underserved." This language is misleading. If the current plan is enacted, ARP will shift its focus primarily to the care of indigent patients, many of whom are receiving grants from the 21st Century Cures Act. Yes, individuals without traditional financial means will now have an opportunity to attend UAB, but the quality of their service will be tremendously diminished.

Treatment for addiction is multi-faceted, and stretches far beyond managing acute withdrawal symptoms from substances. It is the opinion of myself and many others that the hospital administration does not understand this fact, and are seeking to turn UAB ARP into a glorified detox center where patients come in for a brief period of time to receive medically-assisted detox. This change would be a stark contrast to the extensive work the ARP staff currently do to not only detox patients, but to identify and address the root causes of a patient's malady; not to mention the work they do to provide continuing care for patients after they graduate the program.

But perhaps the most concerning aspect of this decision is that non-indigent patients with insurance would be referred to Bradford Health Services. As someone who has spent time in both Bradford and UAB, the difference between their programs is immeasurable. I know I can personally say, without a moment's hesitation, that I would not be where I am now had Bradford been my only option. That isn't to say that Bradford has not been, or is not currently, effective for people. But, ultimately, the fact is that UAB's shift to indigent care would make Bradford the sole provider for insurance-covered rehabilitation. I think that is concerning enough on its own. People deserve options when choosing the treatment that they feel will be best for them.

I hope this is not perceived in any way, shape or form as an attempt to snuff or criticize attempts to bolster care for indigent patients. I work regularly with indigent sufferers of Substance Abuse Disorder, so I understand, and deeply sympathize with, their plight. I just cannot see the gutting of the current addiction recovery program as the sole solution.

Ultimately, the point of this petition is to appeal to the hospital administration to reconsider the impact that this decision would have on individuals seeking treatment for Substance Abuse Disorder and those who continue to rely on UAB ARP for continued support after graduating the program. Jordan DeMoss, Senior Associate VP with responsibility for the ARP, has helped to bolster the current program over the years and recently helped to expand it. I cannot imagine that he has no ambivalence regarding this decision. For individuals who have been through UAB ARP, are in recovery, or just have a general vested interest in the overall health and safety of our communities, this petition needs you.

Hopefully, through joined effort, we can help the hospital administration to consider their decision a bit more thoughtfully.  


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