Melissa DeMars, LPC works with NorthCare Network and University of Michigan to help providers become waivered for MAT. She is available for questions at MDeMarse@northcarenetwork.org or 906-869-0039.
MAT is the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a “whole-patient” approach to treating addiction.
MAT is primarily used for the treatment of addiction to opioids such as heroin and prescription pain relievers that contain opiates. The prescribed medication operates to normalize brain chemistry, block the euphoric effects of alcohol and opioids, relieve physiological cravings, and normalize body functions without the negative effects of the abused drug. Medications used in MAT are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and MAT programs are clinically driven and tailored to meet each patient’s needs.
Most of the Upper Peninsula is designated as a "Health Professional Shortage Area" and experiences shortages in specialists and mental/behavioral health care. MAT has not been widely utilized in the UP, and there is still stigma around this practice by professionals and lay people.
To receive a waiver to practice opioid dependency treatment with approved buprenorphine medications, a practitioner must notify the SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) of their intent to practice this form of medication-assisted treatment (MAT). The notification of intent must be submitted to CSAT before the initial dispensing or prescribing of opioid treatment. Qualifying practitioners can treat up to 100 patients using buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD) in the first year if they meet certain requirements. Find the waiver application here.
If you are pregnant and struggling with opioid use, talk to your doctor right away. Addiction to opioids is a disease, and you and your baby both deserve medical care for a healthier start.