|Opening||Introduction for MAT Experts series.|
|Episode 1||Bryce Newberry speaks with ASU Lecturer Claire McLoone about the science of addiction.|
|Episode 2||Rick Christensen covers the types of medications used to treat Opioid Use Disorder.|
|Episode 3||Francesca Mia Gomez speaks with Sarah Fynmore, Policy Coordinator of Sonoran Prevention Works, about harm reduction principles.|
|Episode 4||Dr. Sara Salek, Chief Medical Officer of AHCCCS explains the role of prescription medications in the opioid epidemic.|
|Episode 5||Bryce Newberry speaks with Charrisa Riggs about Medication-Assisted Treatment. Charrisa explains why MAT is not just replacing one drug for another but a way to help patients get well.|
|Episode 6||Bryce Newberry speaks with CEO of Community Medical Services Nick Stavros. Nick explains opioid addiction affects every American.|
|Episode 7||Francesca Mia Gomez speaks with Dr. Luke Peterson of Banner Health about pregnancy and Opioid Use Disorder. Dr. Peterson explains why Medication-Assisted Treatment is the recommended therapy for pregnant people.|
|Episode 8||Francesca Mia Gomez speaks with Chandler Fire Chief Jason White. Chief White explains why naloxone, the overdose reversal drug, is changing lives.|
|Episode 9||Bryce Newberry speaks with Patrick Sullivan. Patrick is in active recovery from Opioid Use Disorder thanks to Medication-Assisted Treatment. Patrick explains what it took for him to move through addiction and reminds viewers that recovery is possible.|
|Previous||Current||Next||Bryce Newberry speaks with ASU Lecturer Claire McLoone about the science of addiction.||Rick Christensen covers the types of medications used to treat Opioid Use Disorder.||Francesca Mia Gomez speaks with Sarah Fynmore, Policy Coordinator of Sonoran Prevention Works, about harm reduction principles.|
Myth: People use MAT to get high.
Fact: People use MAT to get well.
Interviewer: I’m here with Rick Christensen, a Physician Assistant and Certified Addiction Specialist who’s been prescribing medication- assisted treatment for over 42 years. Today we’re gonna be discussing the different components of MAT.
Rick, you mentioned a couple of different types of medication. How do you know which medication is right for who?
Interviewee: A carpenter was once asked, “What’s the most effective at building a house: a hammer, a saw, or a level?” He said, “They’re all effective, but they’re used for different things.” It’s not so clear with medication-assisted treatment. We try and match the right medication with the right patient, but the basic tenet of medical ethics is patient autonomy. What that means is, at the end of the day, the patient gets to choose what medication they take. The medical provider explains the risks and benefits of each one of the medications, the pros and the cons, and then the patient gets to choose.
Interviewer: You mentioned that these medications help to actually normalize brain chemicals. Essentially, that means that they help the patient focus on recovery and not the craving. What other FDA approved medications are currently out there?
Interviewee: Well, there are only three medications that are currently approved to treat an opiate use disorder: methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone, but at the end of the day, it’s really clear that you can’t just do counseling and expect that people are gonna get better because their brains are fundamentally changed. We know that based on brain scans, not based on frying pans and eggs. You know the old commercial, “This is your brain on drugs.” We know exactly what it looks like. We know exactly what the changes are, and we know exactly how the different medications interact with the opiate receptors to normalize that.
People don’t go to drug treatment to get high. They go to drug treatment to get well. They go to drug treatment to change their lives. We have very good studies that have looked at reaction times and cognition on methadone, and we found that you can’t tell the difference between a patient who’s on methadone or not, so a methadone patient can drive. They can do any job that any other normal person could do because it doesn’t cause that issue.
Interviewer: Mm-hmm. Rick, do you want to go ahead and let us know how these medications are administered?
Interviewee: Sure. Methadone is an oral medication. It’s a liquid. It’s typically mixed with cherry syrup, and it’s taken orally in front of a nurse every day for the first 90 days of treatment. The most common use of buprenorphine is called Suboxone, and it’s mixed with an opiate antagonist, so that if you injected it, it would throw you into withdrawal. It comes in a strip form that you’ll hold under your tongue. If it’s not being done not in a methadone clinic, it’s being done by a private physician, they’re getting a week prescription, so they’re using that at home once a day, and once they’re stable, they can get a monthly prescription. Naltrexone is an injection. It’s given deep intramuscular.
Interviewer: Mm-hmm. Rick, what would you say to people who say that these patients are just junkies?
Interviewee: Do we say that about patients with high blood pressure? They have to take their medicine every day. People with asthma, people with diabetes, they’re taking medicine every day, and they’re dependent on that medication. What I would convince you of is this is a chronic, progressive, often fatal illness that’s characterized by relapse, and it’s medication that normalizes the brain so that they don’t relapse. I abhor the term “junkie.”
Sixty percent of our female patients were sexually abused before the age of 15. Forty percent of our male patients were sexually or otherwise traumatized before the age of 15. Thirty percent of our patients are homeless. Yet these people dig down deep inside of themselves and they find reasons to get better. I’m inspired by that, and so these are heroes. These are people that have overcome things that most people don’t have to get through, and they succeed.
They stop using. They make changes in their life. They go and get a degree. They get a good job. People find ways to get better, and as medical providers and counselors and family members, we need to dig down deep inside of ourselves and find reasons to help. I always tear up because I’m thinking of hundreds of thousands of people who have been so stigmatized in their lives who still get better in spite of all that.
Interviewer: Thank you so much.