Medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders has a new venue: the grocery store.
Ideal Option, which operates more than 60 office-based opioid treatment clinics across 10 states, has partnered with Safeway, one of the nation’s largest grocery retailers, to provide its services inside the wellness center at a Safeway store in Vancouver, Washington, a suburb 10 miles north of Portland, Oregon.
The partnership is believed to be the first that puts an addiction medicine provider in a national retailer’s in-store pharmacy.
Ideal Option operates two other outpatient clinics in Vancouver, but the Safeway location will allow patients the ability to complete a provider visit, pick up medications and shop for household groceries in one stop. Ideal Option accepts all forms of insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare, and its clinic in the Safeway pharmacy is open 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays.
“We have so much respect for Safeway’s courage and vision for making treatment for substance use disorder as broadly available as any other medical service,” Ideal Option CEO Tim Kilgallon said in a statement. “It’s past time for society to accept substance use disorder as a chronic condition, just like diabetes, and refrain from judging those who are afflicted with it. In welcoming Ideal Option into their stores, Safeway is helping to shape the future of recovery from this disorder and in doing so, will save countless lives.”
The clinic inside the Safeway grocery store is part of Ideal Option’s broader effort to destigmatize addiction treatment, Sharen Ross, the company’s vice president of marketing and community development, tells BHE.
“It will take a while to change that perception among patients and others in the community, but we want to be part of that movement toward making this an accepted thing that people can deal with without feeling ashamed,” Ross says. “We have clinics across the country, and we’ve started to make them more visible than they used to be—getting more street visibility and making sure they have good parking and are easy to find, rather than hiding them in the corner of a medical office building, which is harder to find. This follows along with that and goes one step further.”
Ross says that Safeway has long been a good partner for Ideal Option by reliably stocking medications that its clinics prescribe and welcoming SUD patients into its stores.
“Safeway Albertson’s has always been supportive of this patient population, so I think it makes sense for them to be the ones doing this,” Ross says. “It’s important to give them some kudos for contributing to the solution.”
Three weeks since launching the program in the Vancouver store, Ross says the clinic is drawing about 30 patients per week and is well on the way to reaching Ideal Option’s goal for the site of treating 10 patients per day. With promising early returns, plans are being discussed to replicate the model in other stores, and Safeway has expressed an interest in working with Ideal Option to add clinics in more of its stores where it is logistically feasible, Ross says.Addiction Services MAT New Drug Trend Opioid Epidemic Programs Recovery Assistance