Birmingham will be home to a new office-based drug and alcohol treatment practice, located at St. Vincent’s East. This week, Pathway Healthcare will open its flagship office and that opening brings a new approach to one of the major issues facing Alabama. The office will open on May 1.
Pathway Healthcare specializes in treating opioid use disorder, alcohol dependency, and other drug use disorders through a proprietary care model, known as MAT Plus, that combines medication-assisted treatment with behavioral counseling.
The opioid crisis has been one of the main talking points in the most recent gubernatorial debates, with candidates offering a bevy of suggestions and solutions for the issue. But Pathway doctors see the solution as much more than a political talking point.
Dr. Stephen Taylor, who has practiced in Birmingham for 14 years, said Pathway’s approach to the issue is based largely on how the affliction is viewed.
“Our approach to drug and alcohol addiction relies first on the fact that addiction is a disease, not unlike diabetes or heart disease, and our patients are treated with the respect they deserve, and with the care, they need to battle this disease,” Taylor said.
“Only one in ten people suffering from addiction even seek treatment,” Taylor said. “The stigma surrounding addiction often keeps people from seeking treatment, and until we can combat that stigma, this trend sadly will continue.”
Taylor said looking at the crisis as more than just a social problem but treating the illness like we would any other illness is key. In essence, looking at people suffering from addiction as criminals is not the way to solve the epidemic.
“You wouldn’t just lock up everyone who has diabetes,” Taylor said. “Look at it from that perspective, and you see just how important it is to accept that this is truly a disease that needs proper treatment.”
Taylor said Birmingham was the best choice for the flagship office for a variety of reasons. He pointed to the fact that Alabama has one of the highest opioid dependency rates, and facilities the Birmingham medical industry offers.
“Breaking down the stigma associated with substance use disorders is critical to getting people the treatment they need,” said Scott Olson, CEO of Pathway Healthcare. “By operating out of a location within St. Vincent’s, we are bringing addiction medicine into Birmingham’s mainstream healthcare system.”
With Alabama locations in Birmingham, Madison, Hamilton, and Mobile, as well as across multiple other states, Pathway Healthcare is aggressively working to increase access to care in Alabama and throughout the country.