The Benefits of Medication-Assisted Treatment
Yesterday, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a national emergency. We have few details on what exactly this will look like, but we hope the administration follows the White House Commission on Opioid's Interim Report in its suggestion to allow greater access to treatment options. At the top of the report's list suggesting a declaration of national emergency, and also steps to solve the crisis, was enhanced access to medication-assisted treatment.
If you’ve been following the evolution of Workit, (which of course you have!) you probably noticed that we’ve focused in on the opioid epidemic, and that our care team is now offering medication-assisted treatment to folks who need it. As your Director of Counseling, I’m here to tell you why.
Here is some history: Workit was started after a good friend passed away from an overdose. She was trying to use the current treatment services out there and she slipped through the cracks and passed away. To us, this was unacceptable. Taking a step back and looking at the attitude of substance abuse treatment this is what we saw:
“Do 12 step programs or end up jails, institutions, or death.”
“12 step programs are misogynistic and will force feed God to you.”
“Come to this fancy rehab that your insurance will not cover.”
“I don’t know any of ‘those types’ of people. Not my problem, but too bad for them!”
Not exactly the warm hug someone in the grips of addiction needs. (And yes, we believe addicts need warm hugs and support, rather than tough love, guilt, or shame.) Workit was formed to fill those huge cracks we saw in substance use disorder treatment, and hopefully catch some of the people falling into them.
Two women in long-term recovery (not your usual CEO’s or executives) hit the pavement, talking to businesses, community leaders, friends in recovery, and anyone else who would listen. They said we weren’t meeting people where they were if we only offered up polarizing, limited choices. We needed to do better.
In communities across the nation, medication-assisted treatment is, to say the least, controversial. But as a company we don’t believe in shying away from controversy: we lean in, we hear the arguments for and against, and we check the science. We concluded that we had to offer MAT.
Offering the best options for those interested in getting better is everything Workit stands for. We believe in connecting people with a better way to get better, stigma against it be darned. We could send folks to meetings, and of course, there’s room for that too. But meetings are already available. Medication-assisted treatment isn’t. No other effective treatment is as desperately needed and as under-supported. We’re headed into those spaces we can make the biggest difference, fastest. Our friends are dying. We don’t want to lose anyone else to this epidemic.
I could post you all the science and research about MAT’s effectiveness (which we have and will do in other blog posts) but here is what I know with 100% accuracy: You can’t recover if you are dead.
Is medication-assisted treatment a perfect fit for everyone? No. Is it for some? Yes. This is no longer a debate about being right or wrong. This is about saving lives. If we have to step out of comfort zones to provide treatment we will, every time. This is about giving people the best chance to make it out of the worst drug crisis this country has ever faced. This is about the 142 Americans dying every day of drug overdoses. Is a national emergency warranted? Absolutely. We're already living it, whether it's declared or not. But what comes next is crucial to saving lives, and access to treatment options is vital.
Christine Taylor is Workit Health's Director of Counseling, and is a clinician with over a decade's worth of experience working with various disempowered populations to promote self-efficacy and resource acquirement.