In addressing the opiate epidemic, facilitating the placement of an individual with one of the 21 physicians in Atlantic County who may prescribe buprenorphine products is one of the most important recovery supports needed upon completion of a detox or acute treatment - or in lieu of. Leading experts and scientists refer to this as the "gold standard" in opiate use disorder treatment and Recovery Force has successfully provided in-home recovery coaching with this addiction medication for almost two years. However, access to these products is extremely limited by three factors: the MAT stigma, locating services, economic factors.
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As early as 2013, every person Recovery Force worked with had been referred by a Suboxone prescribing physician who had a patient in need of recovery support. The dilemma was the same: Many meetings discriminated against people on MAT, which made it counterproductive to attend this type of support; there is no recovery housing in NJ that allows a person to be on medication; finding a prescribing doctor was time consuming and done in the midst of a crisis; there were no support services that were available for office-based MAT patients and their families; there were no leaders being identified among MAT patients to advocate for this pathway to long-term recovery; the hand holding needed to gain traction using this pathway were nonexistent for those people and families that needed it.
Not a single government or referral agency brochure or website even acknowledges the existence of the 21 private physicians in Atlantic County who prescribe addiction medication, like buprenorphine/naloxone. As a result, many families land in a detox or acute treatment facility without ever knowing about what the Surgeon General calls the most effective option available for opiate use disorder. Further, in many instances the personnel at these facilities do a fairly good job at convincing individuals that MAT would be a poor choice and some mutual aid groups further reinforce this by openly limiting the participation allowed by those whose recovery support includes addiction medications. For those referred to Recovery Force by a physician, all families reported that word of mouth or an advertisement by one of the doctors is how they located the physician whose care they were under. All families reported that The research and selection process was described as a chaotic exercise that lacked any informed decision-making. Families simply sufficed - they settled for the first option that was the least bit passable. This is not the way that other diseases are treated!!! Substance Use Disorder should be no different.
Recovery Force of Atlantic County created the first of it's kind Recovery Coaching for Office Based MAT. Please click here to learn more.
Misinformation and myths about what buprenorphine products are and what they actually do (and don't do) have unfortunately become widespread early on. It is widely believed that abstinent-based 12-steppers, who comprise a fair portion of the drug and alcohol workforce, led the opposition to the use of opiate addiction medications claiming they were nothing more than "trading one addiction for another". This myth unfortunately stuck because the explanation as to why it was false was not a brief one and more scientific than the average layperson could grasp. In essence, there was not an equivalent sound-bite to the plausible "trading" argument and so the masses never seriously entertained Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) as an acceptable remedy. Yet overdose deaths continued to grow exponentially and the status-quo treatment options became a true revolving door. Finally, research shows that buprenorphine/naloxone treatment is the gold standard of evidence-based interventions for addressing the opiate epidemic. Recovery Force constantly works to spread the truth about the efficacy of MAT and the outcomes which assert that this approach reduces relapse and mortality rates by as much as 75%.
In order to make real access to office-based MAT, aggressive advocacy is necessary to get the public to give MAT a second look. FRAC has spread this word exhaustively through social media and plans to continue this through storytelling from MAT persons in long-term recovery.