Fighting the opioid crisis: medication assisted treatment

Opioid Crisis

As Pennsylvania continues to fight the deadly opioid crisis, there are fewer in-patient detox facilities to provide treatment.

Most people would say we need more, but not Dr. Sarah Kawasaki. 

She’s the Medical Director of an opioid treatment that most detox centers reject. It’s called “Medication-Assisted Treatment.”

The reason some experts don’t approve is because with M-A-T, opioids are used to wean addicts off opioids. 

“So that they can engage with family, they can be Grandpa, they can be Grandma, they can really reconnect with people that they lost a long time ago is special, and it’s meaningful, and it adds meaning to people’s lives again,” said Dr. Kawasaki. 

She says that when a doctor administers Methadone, or Buprenorphine, addicts’ lives are saved because it is done legally and safely. 

Those in treatment can do all the normal things they used to do, including going to work. 

M-A-T eliminates the craving addicts get which makes them lie, cheat, steal, or prostitute themselves for the next fix. 

Dr. Kawasaki acknowledges going drug-free in detox sounds better, but she says the numbers prove, it isn’t.

 “When it comes to opioid use, disorder people who go through detox will inevitably relapse  9 in 10 times,” said Dr. Kawasaki. 

Dr. Kawasaki says Medication-Assisted Treatment can last months, or a lifetime. 

Just like some cancer patients may need to take drugs for the rest of their lives. 

Both keep disease at bay. 

FYI, most rehabs in Pennsylvania don’t offer M-A-T, they are detox facilities. 

If you want help finding M-A-T for yourself, or a loved one battling opioid addiction, you can call 1-800-622-HELP (4357). It is a national helpline staffed by trained professionals 24 hours a day. 

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