Position Statement on Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT).
Broken No More recognizes opioid use disorder as a physical, medical, disorder. We accept the scientific consensus that this disorder is caused by the repeated administration of these opioids resulting in alterations, at a cellular level, within the brain and that it is these changes that are opioid addiction. Opioid addiction is, therefore, understood to be a disorder of brain structure and, thus, of brain function. It is not a problem of willpower. It is not a “choice.” This understanding of opioid addiction is recognized, and promoted, by the World Health Organization, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Substance Abuse and Mental health Services Administration, National Institutes of Health, Health and Human Services Administration, American Society of Addiction Medicine, American Medical Association, and many others in the medical and scientific community.
As a medical condition, Broken No More recognizes that the best treatment for opioid use disorder is medication. This recognition is supported by almost 50 years of research. Research that has overwhelmingly demonstrated that the use of methadone, and since 2002, the use of buprenorphine to treat this disorder provides those suffering from this illness the best possible opportunity to obtain remission from their disorder, to become well, and to remain alive.
“Extensive literature and systematic reviews show that maintenance treatment with either methadone or buprenorphine is associated with retention in treatment, reduction in illicit opiate use, decreased craving, and improved social function.”
“The DRP (Drug Related Poisoning) risk associated with psychological support was twice that for MAT, and was comparable to the risk when not in treatment. This is consistent with an earlier observation that ‘drug-free’ treatment is associated with a higher all-cause mortality risk.”
Broken No More’s support for MAT is not new. Broken No More has supported, promoted, MAT for our loved ones at a time when it was not a popular position to hold. This has been a long road. Too many of us have suffered, too many of us have died, too many families, relatives, friends have lost the one they loved to this illness. But it is changing. MAT is being recognized as the life-saving treatment that it is. Our government is supporting and promoting the expansion of MAT:
“The opioid epidemic is one of the most pressing public health issues in the United States today,” said Secretary Burwell (Health and Human Services Administration). “Expanding access to medication-assisted treatment and integrating these services in health centers bolsters nationwide efforts to curb opioid misuse and abuse, supports approximately 124,000 new patients accessing substance use treatment for recovery and helps save lives.”
“To improve access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use, the Presidential Memorandum directs Federal Departments and Agencies that directly provide, contract to provide, reimburse for, or otherwise facilitate access to health benefits, to conduct a review to identify barriers to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders and develop action plans to address these barriers.”
The legislative branch of our government has also expressed its support of MAT. The Senate recently passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). This bill provides for the expansion of MAT.
“CARA supports the expanded provision of buprenorphine, methadone and other forms of medication-assisted treatment, including to people involved with the criminal justice system. The vast majority of correctional facilities do not provide medication-assisted treatment despite an overwhelming need among incarcerated people and the strong evidence base supporting medication-assisted therapy to treat opioid dependence.”
The treatment industry in this nation is in transition. It is having to abandoning its reliance on the ineffectual medication-free treatments that have led to so much pain for ourselves and our loved ones. And to the loss of so many. But there are those in this industry, for reasons of personal ideology and financial gain, who will oppose the expansion of MAT. Our work is not done. This fight is not over.
Broken No More will continue with its efforts to promote MAT as the life-saving treatment that it is. But we need everyone’s help, everyone’s assistance, in this effort. If we will come together and speak with one voice, if we will demonstrate unity in this purpose. This fight, we will win. And so many lives will be saved. And we will save so many families, so many loved ones, from being so broken.