4 Solutions to Eliminating Barriers to Opioid Treatment  


Every single day we are inundated with information about the Opioid Epidemic and the Fentanyl Crisis. The question for most of us in the industry should be how do we reach more people? How do we ensure that the services we offer and others offer are meeting the needs of the members of our community?

These were the questions we asked ourselves at SouthLight. We asked about barriers to substance use treatment; what things that would stand in the way of any individual who was seeking treatment for Opioid Use Disorder, and we came up with 4 solutions.

One of the most significant barriers to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) is employment. Traditional hours for Opioid Treatment Programs were 5:30 am to 12 pm. These are difficult hours for individuals to utilize if they have employment, families, kids in school, etc.

4 Ways SouthLight Increased Access to Opioid Treatment

SouthLight set out to make a difference and to increase access to care for those seeking opioid treatment by taking the following steps.


We became the first and only clinic in the state to provide the option of evening dosing hours. We continue to have traditional dosing hours from 5:30 am-12:30 pm and have expanded our hours by opening the clinic from 4-8 pm. For more than 60 of our clients, this has been a tremendous improvement to services. It allows them to have a fuller life, to be more engaged with family, to feel more “normal”. It makes treatment seem more possible.


We also wanted to make treatment more client-centered. After all, it is about meeting clients where they are, not where we want them to be. We encourage non-traditional engagement with our clients. No longer are our sessions simply behind closed doors in a sterile environment. This increased visibility and engagement opportunities has led to some of the highest retention rates of any opioid treatment program in the state.

Our counselors are outside, where they are accessible and visible, and we work as a team. Clients no longer feel as if there is only one person to talk to, but an entire team of people who have their best interest in mind.


We adjusted our intake hours to accommodate the needs of our community. Rather than limiting the times individuals could intake into the program, we opened access by having walk-in intakes, with no appointment needed. Clients can walk in for help Monday – Friday 5:30-10 am and 1-3 pm. The opportunity to intake into opioid treatment services during the afternoon is another access point that is unique to SouthLight. Our philosophy is that every time, and almost any time, an individual walks in for intake, we should be able to accommodate that intake. Failure to do so is a failure to make a huge positive impact on a person’s life.

We understand that when a person is ready for treatment, we need to be ready to receive them. Asking them to wait is a missed opportunity.


We have partnered with several community agencies to provide smooth and seamless access to services. We strive to maintain good communication with our community partners; good relationships and communication between agencies leads to improved care for clients.

Increasing Access to Opioid Treatment: Putting People First

All of these changes have given us an opportunity to help more members of our community. By putting people first, increasing access, increasing visibility, and being able to think outside the box of traditional opioid treatment hours, we have grown to the largest single-site Opioid Treatment Program in North Carolina.

This shows us that if we are able to meet clients where they are and honor their immediate needs, we can impact more members of our community in a positive way.

For us, it’s not about the numbers; it’s about the people. It’s about making sure that we are ready when they are ready, and that we do everything in our power to ensure that we never miss an opportunity to support our community and its members.

Learn More or Get Engaged with SouthLight.

Kellie Ross

About the author, Kellie Ross, MA, LCAS, CSI, Opioid Treatment Program Director

Kellie Ross is a Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist and a Certified Clinical Supervisor Intern and serves as the Director of SouthLight’s Opioid Treatment Program. She has a Master’s Degree from Fayetteville State University in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Experimental Psychology. Kellie shares that she has a family history of addiction, and strives to overcome the stigma associated with addiction.