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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction in the United States: Critique and Commentary

Karen McElrath
Substance Use & Misuse 2018 January 28, 53 (2): 334-343
28862903
In the United States, buprenorphine products (namely buprenorphine/naloxone combination) and methadone are the primary forms of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) that are authorized for addressing opioid addiction. Although treatment ideologies differentiate MAT programs, much of the provision in the US reflects a model of "high threshold, low tolerance." This model is discussed with a focus on structural and programmatic barriers that shape access to and retention in MAT. The critique continues with a discussion of multifaceted stigma that reinforces spoiled identities and diffuses into treatment settings. The social control mechanisms that are imposed in MAT are strikingly similar to those reflected in criminal justice settings, namely probation, parole and community corrections more generally. Parallels are drawn between the "addict" and the "felon" and how they are monitored, tracked, and controlled. These factors have major implications for recovery.

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