What does substance-use treatment actually look like?

  • Date: 07/30/2023

The core of substance-use disorder treatment falls into three categories: medication-assisted treatment, outpatient treatment and inpatient treatment.

People find their way to treatment in a variety of ways: upon referral by an outreach worker, at the insistence of family or friends, through drug court or another diversion program, by emergency room referral or, as is often the case, of their own accord.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid substance-use disorders uses doses of synthetic opiates such as methadone and buprenorphine to stave off cravings and withdrawal symptoms. The goal is to stabilize people before they enter counseling to address the root causes of their substance-use disorder and provide tools to deal with addiction.

MAT tends to be relatively low-barrier, with most providers offering walk-up, same-day service without a referral. But MAT access is not without challenges. Clients must make it to the provider during business hours. Transportation can be a challenge for those relying on public transit.
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