Dr. Maria Garcia: Opioid addicts need help with physical and mental health

June 19, 2014

As Massachusetts confronts an opioid abuse and misuse crisis, Maria Garcia, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine, says clinicians need to assist patients addicted to the powerful drugs by supporting both their physical and mental health needs.

“It is very challenging to find the resources to help in assisting these patients who have so many needs,” said Dr. Garcia.

“Patients who have become addicted to opiod medications must be dealt with using a multifaceted approach,” Garcia said. “You’re not only dealing with the medical consequences of being on opioid high doses, but you’re also dealing with psychological factors.”

Garcia, also the medical director of Commonwealth Medicine’s Clinical Pharmacy Services, said doctors need to understand that new medications like Suboxone® (buprenorphine and naloxone) can treat opioid addiction and help patients get their lives back.

In her role as medical director, Garcia has provided medical leadership to the executive director and senior managers of UMass Medical School’s Clinical Pharmacy Services since 2006. In addition to serving as medical liaison for the program’s pharmacy contracts, she has leadership and consultative roles in hospital care reimbursement and pharmacy utilization management.

Established in 1999 to provide drug utilization review services for Massachusetts Medicaid, Clinical Pharmacy Services now provides clinical and operational support, consulting and service delivery in a broad range of areas such as evidence-based pharmaceutical care management, clinical call centers, medication therapy management, patient-centered medical homes, pharmacy analytics, and patient/prescriber outreach. Our clients include state Medicaid agencies, pharmacy benefit managers and managed care plans.