By Alison Knopf
Even buprenorphine treatment programs are being chased out of town—at least, if the towns have anything to say about it. This happened to ReVIDA Recovery Centers, which sought to move one facility after a fire destroyed the other one. ReVIDA had wanted to provide continuity of care for patients, but Morristown, Tennessee decided to deny a zoning permit to the program. ReVIDA, which provides medication-assisted treatment with buprenorphine, responded by saying that it would sue.
“Our patients are our first priority,” said CEO Lee Dilworth in a September 25 statement. “The City of Morristown clearly misinterpreted the law. We are asking the court to correct this error. Above all, we want to ensure that our patients in Morristown continue to receive the highest standard of care as they continue on their path to recovery.”
ReVIDA is licensed by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services as a non-residential office-based treatment facility; its physicians are able to write prescriptions for buprenorphine.
Zac Talbott, CMA, Director of Clinical Services for ReVIDA, noted that Morristown has a zoning ordinance specifically for opioid treatment programs (OTPs) (which the town likes to call “methadone clinics”), and applies a different standard to those programs than to treatment programs for other chronic diseases. In this case, the town must have thought ReVIDA was an OTP—it’s not, it just uses buprenorphine. Mr. Talbott doesn’t think the ordinance is legal.
Mr. Talbott, a MAT advocate who attributes his own long-term recovery to methadone treatment, opened Counseling Solutions, an OTP in Georgia, in 2015, then added another in North Carolina. He sold both OTPs to BayMark in 2018. He left BayMark recently (on good terms) and is now at ReVIDA, working tirelessly against the stigma methadone and buprenorphine patients—and their providers—face. He is the incoming president of NAMA-Recovery, and will receive the Robert Lane patient advocate of the year award at AATOD later this month.