How to Evaluate Suboxone Providers For Yourself or A Loved One — The Right Questions To Ask

January 12, 2021

It can be difficult to find the right provider to help you or a family member through the addiction treatment process. At Bicycle Health, we want to ensure you have the knowledge you need to make informed decisions about your care—regardless of whether or not you move forward with our treatment. Here are some guidelines to help you make an informed decision about choosing a provider.

What should you look for in a Suboxone clinic?

Treatment availability

  • When is the next available intake appointment? Individuals with addictions often find certain moments when they desire treatment that can pass quickly. Rapid availability is key to helping people in the moment they feel ready for help. 
  • How available is the provider once care is established? Providers that are booked months out may have difficulty addressing frequent needs of people newly in treatment for addiction.

Convenience

  • Does availability match your scheduling needs? Individuals with schedules that revolve around work, school, child care, or other commitments may benefit from services that are available outside of standard business hours.
  • How long is travel time to see the provider? Compliance to frequent visit requirements may be difficult if a provider is located so far that a long drive or bus ride is necessary. Telemedicine providers can often complete appointments without in-person visits, so that you do not need to leave home or work to obtain services.
  • How long is travel time to see the provider? Compliance to frequent visit requirements may be difficult if a provider is located so far that a long drive or bus ride is necessary. Telemedicine providers can often complete appointments without in-person visits, so that you do not need to leave home or work to obtain services.

Insurance options

  • Does the provider take your insurance? Total cost of treatment (medication costs, co-pays, etc) is important to know upfront. 
  • Does the provider have other payment plans if you do not have insurance, or choose not to use your insurance? Due to the stigma against patients with addictions, some individuals choose to pay cash rather than bill insurance; if so, what is the overall cost? Can insurance pay for medications if not the actual visits?

Medication-assisted versus abstinence-only treatment

  • Does the provider prescribe medications (such as Suboxone) to help overcome opioid use disorder? Medications are an evidence-based means of helping patients with addictions and should be an option for all patients even if they choose not to take them.

Breadth of practice

  • Does the provider treat chronic pain, psychiatric issues, or other common conditions that often go along with addiction? Patients with complex issues may need to balance the pros and cons of choosing separate specialty services versus choosing a more general provider that offers less specialized care for all their conditions. 
  • Does the provider offer counseling within the same agency, or do patients have to go elsewhere if they desire counseling for their addiction? While counseling is not legally mandated for every patient receiving Suboxone, most programs require some form of counseling.

User reviews and testimonials

  • Online user reviews and testimonials can be useful to get an overall sense of patient satisfaction. However, it is important to remember that reviews can be cherry-picked to show only positive responses, or can represent only the extreme positive or negative experiences but not the norm.

What questions can you ask a potential provider to help decide if they are right for you?

Provider’s treatment philosophy and goals

What is the provider’s philosophy about substance use and treatment? Do their goals match yours? Questions for the provider might include:

  • “How do you define treatment success?”
  • “How do you help patients navigate the stigma around opioid addiction?”
  • How do you decide how long a person should be in treatment, as well as if/when a person should taper Suboxone?
  • “How do you hold patients accountable for their own recovery as well as assist them along the way?”
  • “Do you require or recommend counseling along with medications?”

Provider’s approach to barriers and challenges

How does the provider address relapse, incarceration, no-shows, and other challenges? Questions for the provider might include:

  • “How will you help me if I relapse to my old habit?”
  • “How do you address no-shows and other issues of non-compliance?”
  • “Will you accept patients back if they are absent because of jail or prison time?”

Where can you look for a Suboxone provider?

Bicycle Health’s Suboxone treatment program can help you or a loved one recover from opioid dependence. By providing telemedicine services, Bicycle Health helps patients access care in a private environment that removes the barriers of transportation time, COVID risk, and stigma associated with attending addiction services at a physical location. 

All of our providers carry the “X-waiver” license that is required to write Suboxone for opioid use disorder. Although it is not always possible, Bicycle Health’s goal is to provide same-day intake appointments whenever possible.

To learn more about the success rates and safety of Bicycle Health’s telemedicine addiction treatment in comparison to other common treatment options, call us at (844) 943-2514 or schedule an appointment here.

Header Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

About the Author

Dr. Julie Craig, MD

Dr. Julie Craig is board certified in family medicine (2010) and addiction medicine (2015). She attended medical school at Oregon Health & Science University, then completed the Northern New Mexico Family Medicine Residency Program in Santa Fe.

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