Telehealth, community providers, research all key components of care
In Texas, one in 10 people have a substance use disorder, and not everyone has the same access to care. One statewide program is addressing this growing public health concern with a fresh approach of science, innovation and a team of people with lived experience in recovery.
Be Well Texas, a program offering treatment and recovery support for substance use and mental health, is celebrating the grand opening of its new 20,000-square-foot facility that provides for comprehensive services anywhere in the state, regardless of ability to pay. The center also conducts research and provides education and training for providers.
“We started these programs to provide equitable access to compassionate, evidence-based programs for substance use disorder and people who are using substances,” said Jennifer Sharpe Potter, PhD, MPH, executive director of Be Well Texas. “Evidence-based treatment means treatment with the best possibility of success because we know from science that it works.”
Be Well Texas is bringing addiction medicine specialists, behavioral health experts, researchers and several staff members with lived experience in addiction recovery together at this new location to collaborate statewide and expand access to care. The new location includes in-person and telehealth clinical space, a research laboratory, a tele-mentoring studio, administrative offices, a spacious waiting area and other features.
“So, through a combination of community-based providers, our own virtual clinic that serves the state, and a variety of programs and a lot of hard work, we’re able to provide these services throughout Texas,” said Potter, who also is vice president of research and professor of psychiatry at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio).
State-supported Be Well Texas is a program of UT Health San Antonio.
“We have a team of providers, clinicians, nursing staff, case management, recovery support services – a wide array of services that can help an individual no matter where they are in their journey,” said Briseida “Bee” Courtois, MSSW, LCDC, CMA, director of substance use services for Be Well Texas.
Overall, in addition to its in-person and statewide telehealth clinical operation, Be Well Texas coordinates a network of approximately 140 community providers treating for opioid and other substance use, and providing recovery support services – from Dallas-Fort Worth to Corpus Christi, Houston to El Paso, Lubbock to Austin, and points beyond.
In recovery support services, team members have lived experience with substance use or mental health conditions, or both, now providing critical peer-level support.
“I’ve experienced incarceration, I’ve experienced homelessness, I’ve experienced challenges with substance use and mental health, and how to overcome those things,” said Richard Hamner, LMSW, LCDC-I, RSPS, program manager of recovery support services for Be Well Texas. “So we use that experience along with our education and training to help build the resources that individuals need to improve their lives.”
And in research, Be Well Texas is conducting cutting-edge trials to find new treatments for substance use disorders, including for cocaine-use and methamphetamine-use disorders. Plus, the program is conducting two clinical trials for medications that could help individuals curb their withdrawal symptoms from cannabis use.
“The mission of Be Well Texas research is to leverage our science in order to address gaps in treatment for opioid-use and other substance use disorders, and ultimately to improve the lives of people in Texas,” said Tara Karns-Wright, PhD, senior director of Be Well Texas.
The new facility is located at 5109 Medical Drive, fourth floor, in San Antonio, 78229. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 888-85-BeWell (888-852-3935), or visit the Be Well Texas website at https://bewelltexas.org/.