First of its kind partnership to combat substance abuse opens in St. Louis
Preferred Family Healthcare (PFH) and the Brown School of Washington University -- St. Louis are collaborating to create a first of its kind partnership aimed at improving outcomes for substance use disorder treatment. CAPA (Community Academic Partnership on Addiction) is a teaching, learning and research program that will offer internship opportunities for Brown School master and doctoral students, according to David Patterson Silver Wolf, associate professor at the Brown School and chief research officer for the program. The clinic, operated by Bridgeway Behavioral Health, a division of Preferred Family Healthcare, offers detox, residential and outpatient drug treatment programs, as well as behavioral health services. Patterson Silver Wolf said the program emulates the internship and residence programs used by university hospitals and medical schools. This program gives social work students an opportunity to learn and conduct research in a real world drug treatment setting. "When social work students imagine a career in addictions treatment, they, like many Americans, often time see this population as very challenging. But once they meet individuals who are struggling with the illness, students quickly find out that addiction treatment is much different than they thought," Patterson Silver Wolf explained. "By working in the clinic and being exposed to clients going through all phases of the treatment and recovery process, our students have an opportunity to learn firsthand, which expands the pipeline in to a career that needs trained therapists." "There are a lot of stigmatized attitudes and perceptions when it comes to addiction," he noted. "This stigma, which manifests itself in the addict's ability to secure employment, housing and upward mobility, is often a barrier to being able to get the treatment that is needed. Our students are learning that in order for an individual to be successful in treatment and recovery, you first have to help fill in the basic resources gaps. You can teach this in the classroom but students have a much better understanding when they see it firsthand while working directly with the clients." Patterson Silver Wolf said 5-6 interns will participate in the program each semester, with each intern completing a semester or up to one academic year in the program. "By sharing resources, we hope to identify ways we can improve the approach we take in treating substance use disorder," he added "We are facing the greatest public health crisis in our generation in regards to opioid epidemic, as well as other substance use disorders. It's a win-win for our students, the PFH staff, and especially the patients being served at the clinic." "The CAPA Clinic, created as a partnership between the Brown School and Preferred Family Healthcare, is a unique, but much needed arrangement for addressing the opioid crisis," said Mary McKay, Neidorff Family and Centene Corporation Dean of the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. "Having the opportunity to partner with a community-based addiction treatment organization where we can share a space for teaching, learning and research enables us to serve our community members with the latest scientific interventions as well as train the next generation of substance use disorder professionals." PFH Executive Vice President of Integrated Health Cori Putz said PFH officials are very excited to partner with Brown School with this project. "Having the CAPA Clinic at our Dunnica location will further close the gap between bringing science to service, with teaching, learning, and research being at its very core," she said. "The CAPA Clinic creates opportunities for social work students to gain knowledge and experience in treating the disease of addiction. Our hope is that the experience of treating individuals suffering from addiction will contribute to reducing stigma associated with addiction as well as create future employment opportunities for these individuals growing the substance use disorder treatment workforce."