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Can Substance Use Disorders be Managed Using the Chronic Care Model? Review and Recommendations from a NIDA Consensus Group

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Abstract

Brain imaging and genetic studies over the past two decades suggest that substance use disorders are best considered chronic illnesses. The passing of the Affordable Care Act in the United States has set the occasion for integrating treatment of substance use disorders into mainstream healthcare; and for using the proactive, team-oriented Chronic Care Model (CCM). This paper systematically examines and compares whether and how well the CCM could be applied to the treatment of substance use disorders, using type 2 diabetes as a comparator. The chronic illness management approach is still new in the field of addiction and research is limited. However comparative findings suggest that most proactive, team treatment-oriented clinical management practices now used in diabetes management are applicable to the substance use disorders; capable of being implemented by primary care teams; and should offer comparable potential benefits in the treatment of substance use disorders. Such care should also improve the quality of care for many illnesses now negatively affected by unaddressed substance abuse.

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Correspondence to A. Thomas McLellan PhD.

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Key Words

  • Substance use disorders
  • chronic illness
  • chronic care model
  • type 2 diabetes management
  • electronic health records
  • healthcare reform