CARMAhealth (“CARMA” stands for Collaborative Addiction Recovery Management and Assistance) was born in Austin, Texas on July 5th 2017, but the idea of providing access to high-quality, in-network primary care for addiction, psychiatric, and related medical problems was years in the making.
During my years in academic medicine and as a practicing addiction psychiatrist, I witnessed countless people confronting what I called the “post discharge medical fumble.” As a dear friend once told me, “just about anyone can stay sober in rehab…it’s when rehab stops that the work begins…that’s when it gets real.” Here, we have thousands of people who spend time in drug rehab facilities who often benefit tremendously from the experience, but when it’s time for a “warm handoff” to a medical provider in their community, the ball gets dropped (the “fumble”).
The “fumble” takes many forms: providers who can’t (or won’t) treat mental illness; providers who aren’t comfortable treating a person with a substance use disorder; providers who put people back on addicting substances thereby causing a recurrence; providers who are not in network with insurance and demand cash; or just no provider at all.
After our first year, we realized that our patients who were in recovery from their addiction still suffered from co-morbid conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, and PTSD, so we quickly understood that we had to provide services for all psychiatric disorders. As a practice and a company, we now provide services for a broad spectrum of psychiatric disorders, and treat people regardless of a substance use disorder history.
CARMAhealth is my effort to solve the problem of access to high-quality medical care for substance use disorders in our communities…to pick up the ball and run with it when it gets real!
– Carlos Tirado, MD, MPH