Providing a “Whole-Patient” Approach for the Treatment of Substance Use Disorder

By Artina Dozier-Gage

Keith Graham, the Peer Recovery Coach at Popoff Family Health Center provided some insight into the Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT) program. He believes that the key ingredient in helping his clients to get to recovery is “not by being judgmental or critical, but rather by embracing them where they are.”  Graham’s role at Popoff as a Recovery Coach plays an important role in the goal of providing a truly holistic approach to the treatment of opioid and alcohol addiction.  His work at the center was made possible with funding from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and The Children’s Foundation through the “Building Health Care Bridges to Stable Health” grant.

The approach to the treatment of Substance Use Disorder (SUD), a condition defined as an “uncontrolled use of a substance despite harmful consequences. …to the point where the person’s ability to function in day-to-day life becomes impaired” is multilayered. In addition to Graham’s counseling and behavioral therapy, patients enrolled in Popoff’s Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) program receive medical care from a board-certified addiction medicine specialist. The prescribed medications help to relieve the physiological cravings patients may experience as well as help to block the euphoric effects of alcohol and opioids.

It’s important to note that Graham himself has battled with SUD and was eventually able to reach full recovery after a 30-year battle, something that he speaks openly about. He has since enjoyed full recovery in 12 years of sobriety. He feels that it is, in fact, his lived experiences with the condition that allows him to truly understand the day-to-day struggles that his clients face as well as the behavior and reflection that is necessary for them to reach recovery.

In Graham’s coaching sessions he often leads with the question, “What does recovery mean to you?” which has a soul-searching quality to it or at the very least creates room for introspection, allowing his clients to begin to examine their own thoughts and feelings surrounding their current circumstance and to visualize being beyond it, or as he puts it, to “find their niche and set the pace for the race in their recovery.”


Artina is the Public Affairs and Social Media Manager at Authority Health