UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The opioid epidemic and larger problems of substance misuse continue to deeply impact communities across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the nation. In 2017, more than 70,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States, with Pennsylvania ranking third with the highest rates of death due to drug overdose. A new partnership between leadership at Penn State’s Evidence-to-Impact Collaborative and the commonwealth will support the needs of individuals living with substance use disorders through a combination of medication with counseling and behavioral therapies.
The goal of the partnership is to help train practitioners to prescribe Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) successfully and efficiently within their communities. MAT combines behavioral therapy and medications to treat substance use disorders and is regarded as the gold standard for treatment, particularly for opioid treatment programs. However, practitioners must first undergo training to receive a waiver from the federal government in order to prescribe MAT in office-based settings. The new partnership is part of an ongoing collaboration between the Commonwealth and Penn State in support of the Pennsylvania Coordinated Medication-Assisted Treatment (PAC-MAT) program.
“Penn State and the commonwealth share the mutual goal of combating the opioid epidemic in our communities. We hope the training provided through this partnership will arm practitioners with the training they need to successfully administer such treatments to people more quickly and more efficiently,” stated Susan McHale, director of Penn State’s Social Science Research Institute.
Penn State’s partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, and the American Society of Addiction Medicine includes the facilitation of eight regional MAT summits throughout Fall 2019 in locations across the commonwealth.
The purpose of the summits is to promote awareness of MAT options, provide strategies for success using MAT, and increase the number of practitioners using the waiver to prescribe MAT, specifically the drug buprenorphine, in an office-based setting. Buprenorphine is the first medication to treat opioid dependency that is permitted to be prescribed or dispensed in physician offices, significantly increasing treatment access. These efforts seek to build workforce capacity by giving providers the ability to prescribe MAT and combat addiction throughout the commonwealth.
“Substance use disorder does not discriminate based on income, race, gender, age, or where you live. Every Pennsylvanian knows and loves someone that is battling addiction,” said Secretary of Health Rachel Levine.
For more information about the eight regional MAT summits, visit the DDAP website.
This article also appeared in Penn State News.