Thursday, September 07, 2006


National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release

Contact Person: Joycelyn Woods, President

For Release:
September 7, 2006


This week the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced the 7 recipients of the Peer To Peer Recovery Grants. NAMA one of the recipients is the first methadone group to receive a Recovery Community Services Program (RCSP). The grant will provide peer-to-peer recovery support services to patients of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Methadone Maintenance Treatment Programs in the Bronx, NY. The announcement continued, “The overall goal is to create a climate for recovery among a population usually neglected by the larger recovery community.”

This is a project that NAMA has envisioned for a number of years to educate medication assisted treatment patients (MAT) so they understand why they are taking a medication. While MAT patients are educated at the start of treatment when the message comes from another patient the message takes on a new meaning. This importance of peer services was realized during the early years of methadone treatment when Drs. Dole and Nyswander oversaw the program. However as methadone treatment expanded the contributions that MAT patients had made to the program was minimized and almost forgotten. NAMA believes that “peer-to-peer services” was the piece of the program that made methadone treatment so effective during the first 10 years when methadone treatment was initiated. Patients felt they had contributed to the program and therefore felt an ownership towards it.

Patients Were Proud To Be On The Program!

Compare that to today when most patients feel ashamed of the very treatment that has helped them. They feel alone, no longer "dope fiends" but still not a part of society, and with nowhere to turn for support. This situation is hardly conducive to rehabilitation. Yet the majority of methadone patients have proven themselves capable and successful in the practical world, as lawyers and waitresses, construction workers and housewives, teachers and cab drivers.

Medication assisted patients don’t consider themselves as recovering persons primarily because they have never been allowed too. Recovery is defined as a larger construct then sobriety or abstinence. However, Recovery is not possible without sobriety. Until MAT patients understand that sobriety has nothing to do with taking a medication they will not be candidates to move on to the larger construct of recovery that embraces a reengagement with the community based on resilience, health, and hope. The Medication Assisted Recovery Service (MARS) project will work to change the negative atmosphere that patients experience and replace it with a sense of accomplishment, well being and recovery.

The goal of NAMA’s MARS project will be to demonstrate the value of peer-to-peer services and that when these services are paired with the most effective treatment for opiate dependence, namely methadone the results can only be outstanding. NAMA knows that this project would put a “smile” on Dr. Dole’s face who died on August 1st. The later years of his life were spent working to end the stigma and prejudice directed at MAT.

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