Skip to main content

PBMC Program Assists Those Suffering From Opioid Withdrawal

July 08, 2020

Contact: Jenifer Harris
207-505-4192 /

ROCKPORT, July 8, 2020 - As the opioid crisis continues to cut across our coastal communities, Pen Bay Medical Center (PBMC), in partnership with Maine Behavioral Healthcare, has developed a program to provide immediate relief to those suffering opiate withdrawal symptoms - and get them on a path of long-term recovery.

Called Rapid Induction, the program provides a single dose of Buprenorphine, also known as Suboxone, to patients who come to the Emergency Department with withdrawal symptoms. The patient is then referred to Maine Behavioral Healthcare in Rockland. Its Integrated Medication Assisted Treatment (IMAT) program combines medication to reduce the cravings and talk therapy.

The goal is for the patient to be seen by a physician who provides IMAT within 24 hours while there is still momentum toward recovery, said Elizabeth Lawrence, MD, medical director and chairperson for the Department of Emergency Medicine at PBMC. Dr. Lawrence oversees the Rapid Induction program.

"It's critical for patients to participate in IMAT as soon as possible," Dr. Lawrence said. "Studies show that combining medication with group and individualized therapy works better, with fewer relapses and overdoses, than therapy alone to treat opioid use disorder."

Although still being tallied, data collected by the State of Maine points to a 7 percent increase in overdose deaths in 2019. Of the 380 overdose deaths in 2019, nearly 89 percent were accidental.
Dr. Lawrence said both the Emergency Department visit and the IMAT appointment are designed to eliminate the stigma sometimes associated with opioid use disorder.

To take advantage of the Rapid Induction program, a patient should come to the Emergency Department at PBMC and speak with the person at the registration window. You will be brought into an exam room where you will be screened to determine if you are a candidate for Buprenorphine. This involves a urine test to make sure there are no opioids in your system and a series of questions that help determine how much Buprenorphine to administer.

"We test a patient's urine to avoid complications when we administer Buprenorphine," Dr. Lawrence said. "Usually, Buprenorphine reduces or eliminates withdrawal symptoms. But if the patient has opioids in their system, Buprenorphine can actually make withdrawal symptoms far worse."

With Buprenorphine administered and the cravings tamped down, patients are then counseled on the benefits of the IMAT program. With the patient's consent, the Emergency Department will submit a referral and a representative from the IMAT program will reach out to make an appointment.

"We want to make sure the patient can be seen by the IMAT team the very next day," Dr. Lawrence said. "If the patient comes into the Emergency Department on a weekend, we will have them come back to the Emergency Department for a second dose of Buprenorphine if necessary to get them through until their appointment.

"These patients don't need inpatient hospitalization, and they don't need to be in a psychiatric unit," Dr. Lawrence said. "They need relief from the cravings so they can focus on therapy and rebuilding their lives."

* * *

If you or someone you love is suffering from opioid withdrawal, go to the PBMC Emergency Department and tell the registrar that you want to access the Rapid Induction program. The doctors there can provide immediate relief and help you take the first steps toward recovery in a compassionate, non-judgmental setting. For more information, call 301-8333.

About Pen Bay Medical Center
Pen Bay Medical Center is part of MaineHealth, a not-for-profit integrated health system consisting of eight local hospital systems, a comprehensive behavioral healthcare network, diagnostic services, home health agencies, and more than 1,600 employed and independent physicians working together through an Accountable Care Organization. With more than 19,000 employees, MaineHealth is the largest health system in northern New England and provides preventive care, diagnosis and treatment to 1.1 million residents in Maine and New Hampshire. For more information, please visit


News from Around MaineHealth

View All
MaineHealth Local Hospital Systems Recognized for Tobacco-Free Achievements
Twelve hospitals and affiliates celebrated for leadership through annual Gold Star Standards of Excellence program.

PBMC Welcomes Jude Stevens, DNP
Pen Bay Medical Center (PBMC) is pleased to welcome Jude Stevens, DNP, as it continues to grow the number of primary care providers serving our coastal communities.
Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital Adopt New Visitation Restrictions in Response to Local COVID-19 Surge
The updated rules are effective November 18 for PBMC and WCGH locations, medical practices and rural health centers. They are intended to safeguard patients, visitors and care team members during the coronavirus outbreak.
Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital Earn Gold Star Tobacco-Free Awards
Pen Bay Medical Center (PBMC) and Waldo County General Hospital (WCGH) have earned top honors for prohibiting smoking and tobacco use on campus and addressing patient tobacco use, and two WCGH care team members received individual honors for supporting these efforts.
Forensic Nurses Week – November 9-13
Unfortunately, sexual assault and domestic violence happens. When it does, a core group of specially-trained forensic nurses at LincolnHealth, Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital stands ready to offer compassionate, non-judgmental care.
MaineHealth’s Access to Care team connects Mainers with coverage during 2021 Open Enrollment
MaineHealth’s Access to Care team is prepared to assist and educate Mainers in shopping for health insurance plans during the Open Enrollment period, which runs November 1 through December 15.
PBMC and WCGH Drive-through Clinics Increase Flu Vaccinations
Clinics offered by Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital have contributed to a more than 30% increase in flu vaccinations at a time when the flu shot is more important than ever.
MaineHealth Earns 2020 CHIME Digital Health Most Wired Recognition
The CHIME Digital Health Most Wired program conducts an annual survey to assess how effectively healthcare organizations apply core and advanced technologies into their clinical and business programs to improve health and care in their communities.
Getting a Flu Shot has Never Been More Important
PBMC, WCGH and Belfast Public Health Nursing combine to offer 40 flu clinics.
PBMC Receives Get With The Guidelines Target: Stroke Honor Roll Silver Plus Quality Achievement Award
Pen Bay Medical Center (PBMC) has received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines® Target: Stroke Honor Roll Silver Plus Quality Achievement Award.