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Medication Assisted Treatment as a Path to Recovery

Every day, more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. The misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that 2.1M people have a diagnosis of opioid use disorder. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, the rising incidence of newborns experiencing withdrawal syndrome due to opioid use and misuse during pregnancy, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.

Medication-free recovery can be possible for a number of people with high motivation. The number of patients who are able to recover without help from medication report relying on personal motivation, past treatment experiences, religion/spirituality, and support from family and close friends.

However, as many as 90% of those detoxified from opioid use will relapse within first 1-2 months unless treated with medications.

MAT has proved to be clinically effective and significantly reduced the need for inpatient detoxification services for individuals with opioid use disorder. MAT provides a more comprehensive, individually tailored program of medication and behavioral therapy. MAT also includes support services that address the needs of most patients.

The ultimate goal of MAT is full recovery, including the ability to live a self-directed life. This treatment approach has shown to:

  • Improve patient survival
  • Increase retention in treatment
  • Decrease illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders
  • Increase patients’ ability to gain and maintain employment
  • Improve birth outcomes among women who have substance use disorders and are pregnant

Research also shows that these medications and therapies can contribute to lowering a person’s risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis C by reducing the potential for relapse and high-risk behaviors that can expose individuals to these blood borne illnessess.

NJ Peer Recovery is a peer-support line available seven days a week from 8 a.m.to 10 p.m. for qualified Horizon NJ Health members who live with substance use disorder. Callers can talk to a trained Peer Support Specialist who can assist them in creating a personal wellness plan. Peer Support Specialists offer support, information and connection to recovery and wellness resources, including treatment that includes medication assisted treatment and mental health treatment. We support callers’ overall wellness, including physical, emotional and mental health.

Volkow, N. D., et al. (2014). “Medication-Assisted Therapies – Tackling the Opioid-Overdose Epidemic.” N Engl J Med.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. PEP19-5068, NSDUH Series H-54). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration..