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The Problem

Different roads lead different patients to opioid use:

  • Opioid use disorders are most common in younger people, who are predisposed to addiction due to biological differences in how they metabolize drugs.
  • While addiction can afflict anyone, it’s more common in those who have a history of mental illness or trauma or a family history of addiction.
  • Patients who suffer from long-term injury or illness may become dependent on opioids prescribed by their physicians. When they attempt to stop taking the opioid, they become physically ill and unable to function, leading them back to the drug and furthering their physiological dependence.

Bryan Licsko’s minor car accident lead him down that road:


The opioid crisis is compounded by the vast gap in access to opioid addiction treatment. There are FDA-approved medications to treat opioid use disorders, but current prescribing limits can restrict access to these treatment options. Additionally, there is a lack of access to medication that can help prevent and reverse opioid overdoses, like naloxone (medication injected to reverse an opioid overdose in an emergency situation).

"Through early intervention, behavioral health care, and ongoing support we are saving lives that would be otherwise lost to opioid overdoses."

- Stephen Wyatt, DO, Medical Director of Addiction Medicine


Our Solution

We recognize the strong link between substance use and mental illness and promote early intervention with addiction specialists to get patients on the road to recovery. Our Behavioral Health Services have five key initiatives designed to support patients in need:

  • Screening for substance use disorders: Across all emergency departments and inpatient admissions, our integrated behavioral health screening process helps to identify substance use disorders and connect patients to follow-up care.
  • Educating prescribers: We train our physicians on the dangers of opioids, how to effectively manage opioid use, best practice treatment modalities such as medication assisted treatment, along with added monitoring of prescribing practices.
  • Educating patients and families: We empower people to better understand the science of addiction, how to recognize problems with opioids, and where to get help.
  • Providing real-world support: Peer support specialists who have lived through mental illness or addiction are strategically placed in our psychiatric emergency department – the only one of its kind in the southeast region. These specialists are able to engage with patients and connect them to the right level of care.
  • Continuing care: As part of our statewide initiative to reduce opioid overdose deaths, we received 700+ naloxone (overdose reversal drug) kits from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to distribute to patients with opioid use disorders and their families in various emergency departments in 2018.

Our substance use treatment options include:

Inpatient Outpatient Aftercare
We provide a medical detoxification unit and dual diagnosis unit for patients with mental illness and substance use disorder needing a higher level of care. We have an established program wich allows patients to adjust their intensity of care depending on where they are in their recovery journey, including substance use assessments, intensive outpatient treatment, medication assisted therapy, and individual/family counseling. We offer education, access to group meetings, and individual/family counseling.

We have different modes of therapy, in addition to medications that can help decrease cravings and restore brain function. Some of these medications can be taken daily and some can be given by monthly injection.

Learn more about our opioid addiction treatment, program and therapy options.

If you or a loved one needs assistance, Atrium Health’s Behavioral Health Help Line is available 24/7 at 704-444-2400.