Policy Analyst for the Research & Evaluation Group at PHMC, Keli McLoyd, came to speak to our class about Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid use. Before getting into MATs, McLoyd first informed our class as to what Narcan is and what it is not. She stressed that Narcan, although an opioid-receptor blocker, should not be used as a form of MAT. Narcan exists purely for reversal purposes in the case of an opioid overdose. Within Medication Assisted Treatment exists three medications approved by the FDA for opioid-use-disorder treatment. The three medications are Methadone, Buprenorphine, and Naltrexone. McLoyd gave us a quick history lesson on the oldest of the three medications, Methadone, and the establishment of Methadone clinics. The second medication we learned about was Buprenorphine, which is more commonly known as the brand name version Suboxone. While Methadone has to be taken at a clinic, Buprenorphine is portable, and can be prescribed by a doctor with a valid license and waiver. The last medication, Naltrexone, is known best as the brand name Vivitrol. Different from Methadone and Buprenorphine, McLoyd explained that Naltrexone is a one-time, extended-release injection, that blocks opioid receptors between 30-90 days. McLoyd compared the three medications, and discussed with us the advantages and disadvantages of them all individually. She also spoke on the stigmas, accessibility, and policies surrounding these forms of treatment. To end her presentation, McLoyd gave us insight on where to look for credible information surrounding substance use, treatment, and recovery, citing the Pennsylvania Opioid Open Data Portal and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Something I found interesting out of McLoyd’s presentation was the fact that there are multiple medications for treatment in opioid-use recovery, but that they all vary in the stage of recovery in which they should be used, who would best benefit from them, and their overall accessibility (who can prescribe them, how much they cost, etc.). Before this presentation, I did not know much about medication-assisted-treatment for opioid use, so I found this presentation to be really informative. Aside from the main topic of presentation, we also talked throughout the presentation about addiction education in the medical field, prevention for adolescents, and about how opioid use often does not occur in isolation of other substances. Overall, this presentation and the conversations we had brought a lot of clarity about MAT, and also a lot of good, investigative questions surrounding the recovery process, medications, and accessibility.