Freddie Laboy spoke to our class on Tuesday about the harmful stigma of medication-assisted treatment, also known as MAT. He works for Prevention Point in Kensington, and also started Medication-Assisted Recovery Anonymous, which is a 12-step type meeting program for those who are in MAT for their addiction.

Laboy said that some recovery houses don’t take patients on MAT, as they aren’t considered to be sober people. Most programs practice complete abstinence from all substances. This is obviously extremely harmful for those in MAT seeking recovery support. Unfortunately, the stigma comes from a lack of education  — as there is a definite difference between being dependent on something and being addicted.

The 12-step MAT group was started by Laboy in response to this stigma and is his effort to sway the conversation away from shameful talk about those in MAT. His group meets every Wednesday at St. Mark’s Church on Frankford Ave. at 7 p.m. Another meeting located in West Philadelphia is currently in the works.