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The Climb

Navigating the Shifting SUD Landscape: How to Stay Relevant Part 1

May 9, 2023 11:52:43 AM / by Jason Batten, LPC, ALPS, AADC

The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially lifted the global emergency declaration related to the COVID-19 pandemic, indicating a positive trend in containing the spread of the virus worldwide. Additionally, the United States' public health emergency has also ended. As a result, healthcare providers, including treatment providers, are navigating a new world with significant changes compared to the early months of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to widespread changes in the healthcare industry, including the adoption of new protocols and technologies, which providers must continue to adapt to moving forward.

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Part 1 of this series will offer an overview of the significant changes we have seen occur while working with our clients at Ascension Recovery Services. In subsequent parts of this series, we will delve deeper into these changes, exploring how treatment providers can use them to enhance the care they provide and improve their business operations. While the end of the pandemic's emergency phase is a reason to celebrate, it is crucial to recognize that we are still facing serious challenges as a nation, and adapting to this new landscape requires a thorough understanding of the changes that have taken place. By keeping up with the latest developments and adopting innovative approaches, treatment providers can continue to serve their clients effectively in this dynamic environment.



1. The X-Waiver no longer exists; now the future of easy-to-access virtual MAT/MOUD is unclear.
2. New substance use problems like Xylazine are on the scene and ravaging communities, and government agencies are warning of fentanyl and xylazine combinations.
3. Reports indicate a widespread behavioral health crisis among our nation’s youth, including increased suicide attempts.
4. There are some very positive changes coming from federal government agencies, including LPCs and LMFTs now being Medicare providers; SUD 1115 waivers being used to expand access to care for justice-involved populations; and more.
5. Treatment options are expanding in some of the hardest hit parts of the country, including in Appalachia.
6. Workforce challenges remain hard to navigate, and there must be a priority placed on employee wellness, salary and benefit increases, and training initiatives.
7. Federal and state funding is being made available and should be considered as an opportunity to grow programs and supplement existing services.
8. Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers will be prominent and vital components of the behavioral health system in the post-pandemic environment.

By analyzing this list, we can identify a number of positive changes that are occurring in the SUD treatment landscape. However, these changes also highlight the strain being placed on the system as it works to meet the demands of this evolving field. To effectively address these challenges, behavioral health professionals and leaders must approach them with a combination of skill and determination. Meeting these new challenges will require creative and innovative thinking, as new problems often require new solutions. By carefully considering the evolving landscape of SUD treatment, professionals can develop new strategies that ensure their clients receive the best possible care.

Siloed approaches were not effective in the pre-pandemic behavioral health environment, and they will be even less effective in the post-pandemic behavioral health environment. Behavioral health leaders can and should look for ways to increase their organizational capacity through the use of experienced trainers and consultants. These trainers and consultants can tackle complex concerns and allow their workforce to focus on providing care. Ascension Recovery Services is the leader in behavioral health consulting and has been actively working to expand access to evidence-based behavioral health care throughout the pre- and post-pandemic periods.

At Ascension Recovery Services, we are fully equipped to assist you in overcoming any challenges you may be facing within your behavioral health organization. Whether you require guidance, support, or practical solutions, our team is here to help. You can get in touch with us today by calling 304.503.3448 or emailing info@ascensionrs.com. Let us help you navigate the complexities of the behavioral health landscape and achieve the best possible outcomes for your organization and clients.

Topics: Addiction Recovery, Addiction, Recovery Services, COVID-19

Jason Batten, LPC, ALPS, AADC

Written by Jason Batten, LPC, ALPS, AADC

Jason Batten is Ascension RS' Senior Clinical Consultant. He is a clinical mental health and substance use disorder counselor holding active licenses in several different states. He received his Master of Arts in Professional Counseling and Master of Business Administration both from Liberty University. Jason Batten has been a practicing human service professional for the past 10 years and has held several roles in various agencies ranging from Mental Health Counselor to Director of Operations. Jason Batten specializes in providing general mental health and human service support for people experiencing homelessness, serious and persistent mental illness, and substance use disorders. Most recently, Jason oversaw the clinical programs across kathy ireland® Recovery Centers’ sites.  Jason is passionate about person-centered and behavioral therapies that have proven effective with a wide range of clients. Jason believes that effective treatment helps people learn to live well and experience deep meaning and purpose in life.

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