The position on Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) and its place in addiction treatment can often be a touchy or sticky subject. Misinformation, stigma, prejudice or agendas can often be the driving force behind the perception of MAT and the use of medications such as methadone, Buprenorphine (or Suboxone), Naltrexone or injectable Naltrexone Extended Release (XR) (known by its brand name Vivitrol) in addiction treatment.
There are “abstinence-based” individuals or programs that believe MAT should have no place in addiction treatment. There are many medical professionals or others that believe MAT is THE ONLY evidence-based practice for treating someone with an opioid use disorder and that everyone with an opioid addiction should be on medication for the rest of their lives. Outside the realm of treatment, many within the 12 Step fellowships don’t agree with the use of medication or that using medication isn’t “clean or sober” while many in society believe the use of MAT is just substituting one drug for another. There are elements to truth in each of these examples and there is an element of ignorance or misinformation in each of them as well. However, many clinically-driven, recovery-oriented programs (many of which are what a layman or even those programs themselves would consider still “abstinence-based”) understand the value of MAT and utilize it within the programming of a comprehensive treatment approach.
Here at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center, we believe that utilizing every available approach and resource in combating addiction and aiding patients into a lifelong recovery is vital in best practices and high-quality patient care. When looking at the destructive impact the opioid crisis has had on our families and communities throughout the country and the rising rates or overdoses and overdose deaths, we believe that no approach should be ruled out if it allows an individual to stay alive, begin to overcome their addiction and live a happy and productive life. Therefore, as an organization we understand the value of MAT and endorse the use of MAT within the framework of comprehensive clinical services to aid a patient in recovery.
So, what does that mean exactly? Well, to understand how MAT fits into the Maryland Addiction Recovery Center philosophy, it is important to understand the MARC philosophy. We believe that substance use disorder is a complex, chronic, progressive disease that needs to be treated as a chronic illness through long-term, comprehensive clinical services that treat not only the symptoms of substance misuse but more importantly the underlying core issues of addiction as well as any trauma, co-occurring issues, family systems issues, attitudes, behaviors, social and life skills and aid patients find connection, purpose and direction. This is done through a philosophy of challenging patients and their pathologies through creative clinical interventions to move them from a state of disconnection and dependence into a state of connection and independence.
Therefore, for those patients suffering from opioid use disorder, we believe that the use of MAT can be an important tool when use appropriately within a comprehensive multi-disciplinary approach treatment that includes other evidence-based practices. We do not believe that medication alone is a solution for addiction nor do we believe that a single provider with several hours of online training can appropriately or ethically treat a disease as complex as addiction by seeing a patient monthly for 30-60 minutes in their office. We believe that MAT should be individualized based on the clinical needs of each patient and the time on medication or titration will vary depending on that patient’s needs. We believe that patients should be given education on available medication and understand the options. We believe with the appropriate clinical services, supportive living, family engagement and support, case management support, life skills training, an academic or workforce support and reentry program and personal recovery support system, patients will be able to achieve lifelong recovery.
Of the many FDA-approved Medication-Assisted Treatment options, here at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center the preferred options by our staff are injectable Naltrexone XR (Vivitrol) and buprenorphine/Suboxone. We utilize Suboxone as a medication to aid with a detoxification taper for those patients utilizing our ambulatory detox services in the local community or we continue the use of the medication for patients in the extended care community living program when coming from a residential program when the medical team at that facility indicates that a longer titration period is clinically necessary. Our medical and clinical teams will coordinate with the medical teams at the residential location to understand the patient’s medical needs and implement a long-term treatment plan. Patients will often choose to switch to Vivtrol to support their stay in long-term treatment after the appropriate utilization of Buprenorphine.
We believe that MAT is an important evidence-based strategy in combating addiction, but we further understand that the use of medication within a clinical milieu is simply one spoke on a multi-spoke wheel that make up a comprehensive treatment program. Medications and MAT as a harm reduction approach to keeping people alive is important, as we all understand that someone must be alive in order to recover. However, we also understand that harm reduction is not a comprehensive treatment approach and therefore, as a treatment provider, we believe in utilizing MAT within the framework of a comprehensive, clinically-driven program that aids a person to health, happiness, purpose, direction and ultimately, a path of sustainable, lifelong recovery from addiction.
If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or dual diagnosis issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at Contact us today. For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com.