The Treatment Research Institute of Philadelphia focuses on independent, nonprofit research and development committed to science-driven reform of policy and treatment in substance use disorders.

Keli McLoyd works for TRI to work specifically with the research surrounding policies dealing with medication-assisted treatment. Currently, the FDA approves three drugs for medication-assisted treatment: Naltrexone, Methadone or Buprenorphine. 

“They work, period. They save people’s lives, period.” McLoyd said. However, McLoyd added, these medications will not be effective without psycho-social therapy, which includes 12 step programs, intensive outpatient care and occasionally, intensive inpatient care.

Without the addition of psycho-social therapy, patients can become dependent upon these medications. Many recovery groups believe patients on medication are not in recovery, because they are still dependent on a drug. This has caused a divide in the recovery community, and many people using medication assisted treatment may be kept out of certain 12 step meetings or other recovery groups.

Medication assisted treatment facilities, and treatment facilities in general, are also problematic because many communities do not want a facility in their neighborhood because of the stigma it brings with it. Medication assisted treatment also requires a large amount of funding, which may be cut due to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

McLoyd said the stigma behind addiction has kept primary care doctors from treating patients who may have a substance use disorder because they are not educated enough on the topic. To tackle this issue, TRI has been working to implement addiction treatment courses at various medical schools in the area, to keep medical students informed on the topic and the medication available for treating it.