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What is The Collaborative Care Model?

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Have you heard the expression “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts?” In a human being, this could mean that all of the interconnected parts of a person are best treated holistically, as an entire system.

This concept is exactly what drives the concept of collaborative care in addiction treatment. Collaborative care is a joint treatment centered on providing healthcare or medical treatment simultaneously with behavioral health. The goal is to treat the entire patient – and it works, especially with addiction to alcohol or drugs.

This article explores the concept of collaborative care in addiction treatment. What do studies indicate with regard to the efficacy of a collaborative care approach? Where can Washington residents turn for a holistic treatment approach?

Study on Collaborative Care in Addiction Treatment

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine looked at the effectiveness of collaborative care for addiction treatment. In it, researchers measured addiction treatment effectiveness when substance users received traditional behavioral counseling against a collaborative treatment that included primary care and behavioral healthcare treatment.

The study sought to find an effective new way to combat the increase in mortality tied to opioid overdoses and liver disease from alcohol addiction. Researchers noted that these disorders remain undertreated and the primary care physician remains an important conduit to treatment for addiction disorders.


The concept of collaborative care, though, links the primary health provider with a behavioral health therapist, in a joint approach to treat the whole patient. The JAMA study conducted a randomized clinical trial of 377 participants that suffered from opioid and/or alcohol use disorders. The goal was to determine if a collaborative care approach would increase the number of patients who self-reported that they abstained from their substance of choice after receiving both physical and mental health care. While the study had a small number of participants and ran for only six months, it provided psychotherapy and medication-assisted therapy for opioid and alcohol addiction.

The outcomes were tied to evidence-based metrics and were carefully charted. The patients’ cases were tracked by care coordinators that provided additional encouragement so that the likelihood of seeing a therapist regularly would be higher. Each patient received counseling from therapists specializing in social work.

At the end of the six months, the results were very promising; during that time the patients receiving collaborative care reported they were able to abstain from substance use. The Medical News Bulletin reported on the study and stated, “It appears that a more holistic approach utilizing different facets of the healthcare system (mental health, primary care, counseling) is the most effective when combating addiction-related illnesses or disorders.”

Collaborative Care Treatment Programs

The Recovery Village Ridgefield is a Washington State addiction treatment center available to substance users that offers collaborative care and a variety of inpatient and outpatient treatment methodologies. From behavioral counseling, group and individual therapies, treatment for co-occurring disorders, and medication-assisted treatments to help with withdrawal, Washington State addiction treatment strives to treat the whole patient from the inside out. To learn more about admissions, contact us today!