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Rutgers Medical School First To Offer Certified Medication Assisted Treatment

Thursday, March 15, 2018 | By Tim Powers

New Jersey’s oldest medical school is the first nationwide to ensure its graduates offer certified medication assisted treatment. Rutgers Medical School (NJMS) recently announced updates to their curriculum to prepare new physicians for MAT. The first fully trained class of 158 students will graduate next spring.

Certified Medication Assisted Treatment Fills A Void

Until recently, the federal government regulated the training and certification for MAT programs. Medication assisted therapy programs administer low doses of medications such as Suboxone and buprenorphine to reduce cravings to opioid drugs. While offered on the federal level,  medication assisted treatment programs were not offered in medical schools.  Despite an increase in physicians becoming certified after graduation, there is a shortage of MAT prescribers in New Jersey.

Heroin and prescription pills kill 142 people daily in the United States. Additionally, 66,000 people died of drug overdoses in America. Despite the alarming statistics, 8 in 10 addicts never find quality drug treatment. According to statistics provided by the New Jersey Cares website, tens of thousands of New Jersey residents seek treatment for addiction annually and more than 2,200 died of drug overdoses in 2016.

New Jersey has enacted tighter controls over opioid medications. The state has strict limits on first-time opiate prescriptions, and it expanded efforts to reduce doctor shopping through its’ prescription-monitoring program. Despite these measures, experts state that addicts need more treatment options. Through certified medication assisted therapy programs, buprenorphine and other medications are administered in outpatient treatment settings.

Certified Medication Assisted Treatment Therapy Has Support

There are other medical schools such as Brown have medication-assisted therapy training programs in place. However, the Brown program does not include the final federal certification process. Currently, SAMHSA offers an eight-hour training and certification program for MAT. The training program allows physicians to administer the medicines to a limited number of patients. Since its inception, the number of patients that can be seen has increased several times.

This training protocol has support from both experts and medical students. For those experts, medical students should have access to MAT programs if they are already administering chemotherapy and other highly-toxic drugs. The Rutgers MAT certification program is a mix of  classroom discussion and online tutorials.

Additionally, the training program utilizes a newly written textbook centering on buprenorphine treatment. The book focuses on new formulations, federal laws, and treating long-term patients. The book also advises how to treating pregnant women with opioid-use disorders, and how treatment staff can work with traditional 12-step groups who may resist medication based therapy.

The Regulations Behind Certified MAT Programs

The roots of recent certified medication assisted therapy training are based on federal acts such as DATA 2000. The act gives physicians who meet certain qualifications the right to treat opioid dependence with medications approved by the FDA outside of opioid treatment programs.

Additionally, the act permits qualified physicians to obtain a waiver from the separate administration requirements of the Narcotic Addict Treatment Act of 1974. This act outlines registration requirements to treat opioid dependency with Schedule III, IV, and V medications or combinations of such medications that are FDA-approved.

There are additional regulations regarding opioid treatment programs themselves. According to information provided by SAMHSA, the Certification of Opioid Treatment Programs, 42 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 8 provides for an accreditation and certification-based system for these facilities. Monitored by SAMHSA, this code of regulations gives strict guidelines in the use of medications to treat opioid dependency.

These regulations state that opioid addiction is a medical disorder that requires different treatment protocols during their recovery. Also, these regulations allows states in retaining authority to regulate facilities. The oversight of medications used in MAT involves organizations like SAMHSA as well as  the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the DEA.

More Guidelines For Certified Medication Assisted Treatment

SAMHSA states there are additional guidelines for certified medication assisted treatment. The 2015 Federal Guidelines for Opioid Treatment Programs is a guide to accrediting organizations for developing  standards. The guidelines also provide these facilities with information on how they can achieve compliance within the existing federal regulations. These guidelines are an update to the guidelines drafted in 2007. The update states that facilities must  deliver care that is patient-centered and recovery-oriented. There are also additional safeguard protecting patient confidentiality.

Medication Assisted Treatment is Beneficial in an Individual Treatment Plan

An increasing number of drug treatment facilities use medication-assisted treatment in their treatment programs. While proven effective, MAT is no substitute for a comprehensive drug treatment program. Treatment facilities must be well-rounded regarding the services they provide to help patients overcome their addiction. First and foremost, these facilities must feature medical detox programs that are administered by experienced treatment personnel.

It is during medical detoxification where certified medication assisted therapy is of greatest benefit. During early recovery, an addict undergoes withdrawal symptoms that are uncomfortable and painful. The use of medications like Suboxone and Vivitrol reduce the discomfort associated with withdrawal. In combination with other interventions, MAT helps addicts achieve physical and psychological stability.

Once stability is achieved, the newly recovering addict enters intensive drug treatment. Through therapy, 12-Step support, life skills training and other interventions, addicts uncover the roots of their addiction. With these added tools and support, clients are able to deal with trauma and heal. Treatment professionals tailor an individual’s treatment plan to fit their unique needs.

At the completion of drug treatment, rehabs offer outpatient programs that focus on relapse prevention and building confidence in recovery. Through outpatient counseling and sober living programs, recovering addicts build on the life and coping skills that will help them flourish in their daily lives. Additionally, those new in recovery receive continued mentoring and support through alumni programs.

Are You Ready to Take the Next Step?

The ongoing opioid crisis is tearing America apart. Of the 66,000 American who died of drug overdoses in 2016, 42,249 were due to heroin and prescription medication. Currently, drug overdoses are the nation’s leading cause of accidental death. Additionally, it is estimated that 11.5 people in the United States abuse opioid medications.

If you or a loved one are struggling with opioid addiction, your addiction is not just affecting you. Your addiction is also affecting your family, friends, employers and your community. You may have tried quitting opioids in the past with little to no success. You may feel overwhelmed n the face of your addiction and feel there is no way out.

Fortunately, help is one phone call away. Medically Assisted Treatment has helped thousands of addicts find long-term recovery–and they can help you. Our dedicated team of professionals have one goal–to help you break free of your addiction for good. We will provide you the resources and knowledge you need to better understand certified medication assisted treatment. We will also help you find a treatment facility which features quality MAT programs.

Your addiction will grow worse if you don’t take immediate action. Start your road to lifelong recovery by calling Medically Assisted Treatment.

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