Mobile Addiction Clinics Offer Rehab Help on the Go

Several RVs are hitting the roads of rural northeastern Colorado. They’re not manned by retirees skipping from state to state or food trucks serving roadside tacos.

Instead, they’re 34-foot-long motorhomes delivering addiction treatment on the go. 

A state program funded by a $10 million federal grant has converted six RVs into mobile clinics. Their destinations are those isolated towns that don’t exactly offer a lot in medical care, and likely even less in substance use treatment. 

These roaming Front Range Clinics screen urine tests for 13 categories of drugs to help determine the best course of treatment. They also consult with a nurse practitioner or physician assistant. 

From there, clients may get a prescription for Suboxone to curb opioid cravings or a monthly shot of Vivitrol, to block opioid receptors. Narcan can be handed out, too, to help reverse an opioid overdose. 

Clients also can get counseling on-site and drop off used needles for safe disposal. (No clean needles are offered, however.)

Mobile Clinics Aren’t New

Mobile clinics aren’t new or all that rare. They’ve brought health services like vision screenings or teeth cleaning to small communities or underserved areas for some time now. They’ve also provided a way to bring COVID-19 testing to people in public housing or to those who can’t easily travel.

Addiction treatment is a bit more unusual to wheel out to the public, but—considering that some rehab clinics have had to shutter their doors or turn away patients during the COVID-19 pandemic—there’s definitely a need. 

More remote areas have been harder hit by the opioid epidemic, too. Rural areas frequently don’t have the resources, infrastructure, or population to offer the substance use disorder services more populated areas have readily available. Transportation challenges or limited Wi-Fi availability pose other obstacles.

Traveling Treatment

Smaller communities also have older populations and more reports of chronic pain. Mobile clinics can deliver prescriptions to provide quick pain relief for injuries or aging-linked health issues. 

By bringing treatment and testing to people who may not be able to drive— due to prior offenses or health issues—mobile clinics can save lives. 

Sources

khn.org – Health on Wheels: Tricked-Out RVs Deliver Addiction Treatment to Rural Communities

npr.org – A New Medical Van Wants to Connect People in Public Housing with Healthcare Providers

sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – The Opioid Epidemic in Rural America

hhs.gov – Challenges in Providing Substance Use Disorder Treatment to Child Welfare Clients in Rural Communities

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