United Counseling Service launching Medication Assisted Treatment program in Bennington | Health

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BENNINGTON – United Counseling Service (UCS) now offers an outpatient Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) program in an effort to reduce rising rates of opioid overdose across the county and state.

Through its substance use services program, UCS will become another provider of buprenorphine, a drug for the treatment of opioid use disorder, to meet the growing need for resources at its Bennington site , said the service provider.

“The goal of this new MAT program at UCS is to address a critical need in our community as mental health and addictions issues increase daily,” said Lorna Mattern, Executive Director of the UCS, in a press release. “This is an important step in closing a gap in substance use disorder (SUD) treatment that is felt across Bennington County.”

The announcement follows H.222 which was sponsored by Rep. Dane Whitman, D-Bennington, moving to the State House last week. If approved by the Senate and signed into law, the bill would permanently decriminalize the possession of quantities of buprenorphine for personal use. An earlier bill legalizing amounts for personal use on a two-year trial basis was passed in 2021.

Building on Bennington’s strengths in helping those with opioid use disorder is a welcome development for those who deal with it on a daily basis. Margae Diamond, executive director of the Turning Point Recovery Center in Bennington, considers MAT a great addition to UCS’s offerings because so many people with OUD also need mental health services.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Diamond said. “(UCS) really provides a one-stop shop. It’s certainly convenient for people to get from the hospital to UCS and be able to fill their prescriptions there. And I would say a large percentage of people have conditions concomitants.

The program is only available at the UCS Bennington location. The Manchester UCS office has confirmed that it will not have its own MAT program at this time.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) buprenorphine practitioner locator, there are no such establishments in Manchester, although the website contains a disclaimer that the list does not include only contact information for practitioners who consent to release their practice information, and may not be an exhaustive list of all exempt practitioners.

Buprenorphine is defined as a partial opioid agonist by SAMHSA, which means it still binds to opioid receptors in the brain, but activates them at a much less significant level. It produces effects of euphoria and respiratory depression, but at a much lower level than full opioid agonists such as methadone or heroin. This helps decrease withdrawal symptoms for those recovering.

Buprenorphine also has a much lower risk of overdose or misuse. As quoted in SAMHSA’s “Quick Guide to Buprenorphine”: “There is a ‘ceiling effect’ in which further increases above 24 mg of dosage do not increase effects on respiratory or cardiovascular function. »

Buprenorphine is often combined with the opioid antagonist naloxone (the active ingredient in Narcan) in the better known drug Suboxone.

Diamond said methadone still fits into the bigger picture when it comes to addiction recovery, but more immediate and accessible treatment is badly needed.

“There are very individualized medical things. Some people are allergic to Suboxone. Some people just find it doesn’t work as well,” Diamond explained. “So methadone requires a more intense level of care, which is why we need a provider to come in and offer that. There are about 50 people in Bennington County who go to North Adams every day to get methadone.

Healthcare professionals often refer to their addiction treatment infrastructure as a “hub and spoke” system. Recent discussions, such as at the municipal leadership summit at Bennington College a few weeks ago, have centered on the lack of an addiction treatment center – a much more comprehensive treatment center than the smaller rays – at Bennington.

Diamond also said the only other department that had dispensed buprenorphine in Bennington to date – besides some small private practices – was SaVida Health, and estimated they were seeing more than 200 patients a day.


United Counseling Service launching Medication Assisted Treatment program in Bennington | Health

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