MAT stands for Medicated Assisted Treatment and is used for people with opioid use disorder; some recent studies have shown that potentially four to six million people are suffering from this disorder. However, only about 25% of them receive any kind of treatment and only about half of them are still in treatment six months after treatment has started.
BARRIERS TO MAT ACCESS
With the drug addiction numbers rising, there seems to be a large number of obstacles, or barriers, in the way for those looking for treatment for this disorder. Below is a large list of barriers one may run into when trying to find treatment, especially MAT.
- Stigma is defined as how people with an opioid use disorder are treated; in most cases, these people are treated with disrespect by others and many have negative opinions because they believe people with use disorders have done wrong. Are these people ready for treatment and are they the right patient?
- Lack of Provider-Buy-In occurs when the physician does not think it is their job to administer medicated assisted treatment. The doctors feel that if they start prescribing certain drugs, they will potentially change the public’s perception of their office. This of course serves as a barrier to treatment because the provider’s willingness to treat patients with opioid use disorder diminishes. Eventually, this causes the patients to lose their desire and request to stop treatment.
- Lack of Provider Training and Time can affect the process as well. To become certified to treat patients through MAT, they must complete an additional eight hours of additional training, as well as apply for a buprenorphine waiver. Of course, with any doctor’s busy schedule, trying to find time to do additional training and apply for a waiver poses a difficult task. The physician then needs to train people in his or her office to follow the procedures and protocols for these treatment plans.
- Varying Quality and Quantity; although there are thousands of addiction recovery centers across the United States, it is still very difficult for patients to find affordable medicated assisted treatment centers. A lot of the offices have moved to accept cash only; so not only are there not enough clinics participating in the process, the ones that do, may not be plausible for most of those who need it.
- Limited Access due to there not being enough avenues for people to be able to obtain their medicated assisted treatment. With the hardship of the physician in obtaining the credentials needed for medicated assisted treatment and the reimbursement process they have to go through, the added waiver limits on how many patients they can treat, cause patient access to be severely impacted.
- There are Better Treatment Options than medicated assisted treatment. This is something many physicians believe, which prevents physicians from offering this type of care to their patients.
- The shortage of Behavioral Health Workers is a frequent issue, which can affect this type of treatment because these workers are needed to help the patients get through their therapy.
- Provider Mandates are a barrier because, at this time, there is no way to measure the providers’ conformity to the regulations for evidence-based addiction treatment with their patient outcomes. There is a lack of regulatory oversight of the DATA-waivered providers and those who are not prescribing to capacity.
- Other Health Issues or Disorders that may limit them in their treatment. If the patient has another disorder than can disrupt their MAT, it may not be beneficial for them to participate.
- Polydrug Use, or the mixing of drugs and taking one drug while under the influence of another, can also be a barrier to treatment due to the associated risks.
Medicated Assisted Treatment has proven to be effective in treating opioid dependency. However, with all of these barriers to the accessibility of MAT, it becomes difficult for many people to find MAT centers easily. For patients who have been able to enroll in MAT, they must have access to the appropriate community resources to help them through treatment, such as behavioral health counselors. It is also vital to educate families, communities, and healthcare professionals on substance disorders to hopefully help destigmatize MAT.