Christine Martin, LMFT, CACII, aged 35, is director of clinical services for Center for Behavioral Health, North Charleston, South Carolina. She started working as an OTP counselor shortly after completing her Master’s degree program in marriage and family therapy.
“Initially, I didn’t envision staying in the field, but it wasn’t long before I found myself invested in the work and passionate about the population and the treatment modality,” she said. Eventually, she was given the chance to advance with Center for Behavioral Health, an organization with 22 OTPs across the country.
In 2016 Ms. Martin was elected president of the state OTP association, SCATOD (South Carolina Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence). With that role came representations of the state on the AATOD board. She is also the spokeswoman for the South Carolina OTPs with the state drug and alcohol authority.
“We secured contracts with our state authority during year one of the Opioid STR grant to cover methadone treatment for pregnant and postpartum women unable to pay,” she said. For year two, this will be expanded to cover services for all patients who are indigent or cannot pay. “Our year-two contracts will include funding for OTPs to implement, at their sites, Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution (OEND) programs,” she added.
Ms. Martin’s primary, immediate goal is to get coverage for OTP services under SC Medicaid. South Carolina is one of a handful of states that does not cover methadone treatment and OTP services under Medicaid. “We are continuing to work with SC DHHS, and hope to see this accomplished within the next year,” said Ms. Martin. “I would also love to see better integration of medication-assisted treatment in our drug courts and incarcerated settings here in South Carolina.”
Ms. Martin believes that the most important thing for OTPs to do now, while funding is being increased because of the opioid epidemic, is to reach out and work with their State Single Authority (SSA)—the agency or person in charge of the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant, and the STR grants. “I think it is essential that we give input into the use of these funds, and better coordinate and expand the capacity of our systems of care,” she said. “There are quite a few care coordination models emerging where OTPs are being utilized for their specialty expertise.”
Finally, Ms. Martin urges OTPs to embrace the peer recovery movement. She serves on the board of FAVOR Lowcountry, her local Recovery Community Organization. “I see great value in people being able to recover within a fellowship of peers and within their communities,” she said. “In a couple of the states where Center for Behavioral Health operates, we’ve been able to use STR funds to begin adding peer support to our service array.”
She would also like to see more patients who are in medication-assisted treatment getting certified or trained to become peer coaches or support specialists. “I think it is important to have medication-supported recovery represented in this movement.”