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Medication-Assisted Treatment at Walden

Posted on: October 10, 2017 12:10 pm

Medication Assisted Treatment at Walden Behavioral Health

In the midst of the opioid epidemic, communities across the country face increased demands for prevention and substance use disorder services.  The Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) report

  • Young adult’s heroin use more than doubled in the past decade
  • More than 90 percent of people who use heroin also use at least one other drug
  • 45 percent of people who use heroin are also addicted to prescription opioid painkillers.
  • Prescription opioid drug overdoses increased threefold in three years.

To combat this crisis, behavioral health organizations are increasingly utilizing evidence-based practices such as medication assisted treatment (MAT), Walden is no different.  Medications such as buprenorphine and methadone consistently prove effective in treating opioid use disorder.  In recent years, extended-release naltrexone has also been approved for the treatment of opioid dependence and shown evidence of effectiveness. The use of naloxone has also become an increasingly important component of local efforts to combat opioid overdose and death. Increasing access to these and other medications and services is critical to stemming the tide of this current epidemic.

Walden has recognized the benefits of MAT and is pleased to introduce Barbara Mielcarek our Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Barbara is nationally certified to prescribe psychotropic medication for individuals ages 16 and up, and has recently become certified to prescribe buprenorphine (Suboxone) for opioid use disorder.  Barbara has extensive experience working locally with behavioral health, community and nursing facilities.  Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Barbara has lived in St. Mary’s County for over 30 years and is looking forward to the opportunity to meet new people and support the community. 

Walden has also found much success in starting the MAT process while clients are in residential treatment at Anchor.  Clients are able to complete a medically-monitored detoxification in our residential program.  Walden communicates with clients about the benefits of MAT, different MAT options, and developing an individualized plan for starting Vivitrol (oral naltrexone) while they are in residential treatment.  We find starting anti-craving medications while in treatment increases the chances of clients remaining sober in early recovery.

MAT Myths v. Facts[1]

MAT is one of the most effective forms of therapy for substance use disorders but is widely misunderstood.

Myth 1   

MAT trades one addiction for another

Fact 1   

MAT bridges the biological and behavioral components of addiction.  Research indicates that a combination of medication and behavioral therapies can successfully treat SUDs and help sustain recovery.

Myth 2 

MAT is only for the short term

Fact 2   

Research shows that patients on MAT for at least 1-2 years have the greatest rates of long term success.  There is currently no evidence to support benefits of stopping MAT

Myth 3   

My condition is not severe enough to require MAT

Fact 3

MAT utilizes a multitude of different medication options that can be tailored to fit the unique needs of the patient

Myth 4                 

MAT increases the risk of overdose in patients

Fact 4                   

MAT helps to prevent overdose from occurring.  Even a single dose of opioids after detoxification can result in a life – threatening or fatal overdose.  Following detoxification, tolerance to the euphoria brought on by opioid use remains higher than tolerance for respiratory depression.

Myth 5                 

Providing MAT will only disrupt and hinder my recovery process

Fact 5                   

MAT has been shown to assist patients in recovery by improving quality of life, level of functioning and the ability to handle stress.  Above all, MAT helps reduce mortality while patients begin recovery.

Myth 6                 

There isn’t any proof that MAT is better than abstinence

Fact 6                   

MAT is evidence-based and is the recommended course of treatment for opioid addiction.  American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, American Medical Association, The National Institute on Drug Abuse, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies emphasize MAT as first line treatment.

Further resources for those considering MAT can be found at: