When you take Suboxone for opioid use disorder, switching providers can be scary. Here’s a look at what to expect when transitioning to a new Suboxone doctor.
I work on the intake team for WorkIt Health, and a common situation we run across is people wanting to switch from one Suboxone clinic to another. This could be due to scheduling, location, finances, or even a bad experience with a previous provider. Here are a few important things when wanting to make a switch:
Do NOT wait till the last minute
I really cannot stress this enough. Imagine if you were about to be out of Suboxone for a period of time, starting right now. I am sure that scenario made anxiety and worry fill your brain. So don’t put yourself in that situation! Gather information 1-2 weeks prior to transitioning to a new clinic or provider. This can involve requesting your medical records and making sure you have the names and contact info of the clinic and doctor you’ve been seeing.
If you are moving to a new state and seeking a new Suboxone provider there, it is even more important not to wait till the last minute. Some states have requirements before a buprenorphine medication like Suboxone can be prescribed, which can include requiring a visit with a counselor and having a current drug test on file. On the team I’m part of, we don’t want you to have a lapse in medication, and I’m sure staff at other clinics feel the same. It’s hard when we have to tell someone who is out of Suboxone that they will need to wait to get more—hard for us, but especially hard for them.
Insurance and Costs
This is another reason not to wait till the last minute. Don’t assume that because your insurance is a big name or common insurance provider, everyone will take it. There is a lot of red tape that goes into negotiations between a clinic and an insurance plan, so that’s never a safe assumption. You may want to contact your insurance and have them provide a list of in-network providers that do accept your insurance. I especially suggest this if you are moving to a new state. If you don’t have insurance and are paying out-of-pocket, you should plan to check with several providers about their pricing. You will soon realize that there is no standard rate across providers. It might take a few phone calls to find something that will meet your financial expectations and needs.
These are extremely important for your new Suboxone provider. You are a blank slate when you see a new provider; we have no idea about your past mental, physical, or substance use history, so you must complete your intake forms as fully and accurately as possible. The more thorough and detailed you are on the intake forms, the easier and faster your appointments can go! And don’t assume your old provider will pass along all of your information! Due to HIPAA regulations, you will need to fill out and submit a Release of Information request in order for your healthcare team to share your information or records.
Prescriptions, Appointments, and Drug Test Frequencies
One very common misconception is that if your previous provider was issuing monthly prescriptions, you will automatically receive monthly prescriptions with the new provider. This most likely will not be the case! You are a new patient to the new provider, even if you’ve been on that medication for a while. Your clinician will want to build rapport with you and may have internal guidelines about how much they will prescribe to new patients. So they may start you out with a prescription for a week’s worth of Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone). Smaller prescriptions mean that you will be seeing your new provider more often than you’re used to, at least at first. You also might see an increase in drug testing as you are building that rapport with your new provider. However, having previously been on a month-long script could increase the chances you will go back to monthly at a faster rate.
Behavioral Health Requirements (Groups)
Many providers and clinics have some type of behavioral health component. This can be in the form of therapy, groups, coaching, educational meetings, and even courses. The state you live in likely has behavioral health requirements for providers to prescribe Suboxone, which vary from state to state. A clinic also has the discretion to add more than just the minimum requirements specified by the state. This is something to keep in mind if you learn that you will have to do more or less than you’re used to, in regard to behavioral health.
If you are struggling to find new treatment options in your area, I would suggest going to www.TreatmentMatch.Org to help you find a clinic. Suboxone is an important tool for many people’s livelihoods, I hope this guide gives you a better understanding of expectations when seeking help from a new Suboxone clinic.