It is estimated that over 2 million people have an opioid use disorder, which includes prescription pain medication containing opiates and heroin. For some people, rehab is not an option because it means putting their life on hold for a period of time, they would have to be away from their jobs, loss of financial security, being away from family, or other reasons.
What is Medicated Assisted Treatment?
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a “whole-patient” approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. Using a combination of therapy and medicine is a great way to overcome substance abuse disorder. Drug usage and mental health go hand in hand and combating these two together makes for a very successful outcome and help people sustain recovery. MAT is also used to prevent or reduce opioid overdose.
How Does MAT Work?
MAT is primarily used for the treatment of addiction to opioids such as heroin and prescription pain relievers that contain opiates. The prescribed medication operates to normalize brain chemistry, block the euphoric effects of alcohol and opioids, relieve physiological cravings, and normalize body functions without the negative and euphoric effects of the substance used. For some, it is hard to all of a sudden become abstinent from drug use. MAT uses progress and success by small improvements, to big improvements. For instance, if a drinker normally has 10 drinks, and with MAT they only have 5, that is a successful implementation of the harm reduction treatment/MAT. Medicated assisted treatment has proved to be clinically effective and to significantly reduce the need for inpatient detoxification services for these individuals. MAT provides a more comprehensive, individually tailored program of medication and behavioral therapy that addresses the needs of most patients.
Successes of MAT
There is huge success when it comes to medicated assisted treatment. People gain control of their lives, improve employment opportunities, decrease illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders, and are more productive in their daily living. MAT also helps with successful birth and pregnancy outcomes among women who have substance use disorders while pregnant. Research shows that these medications and therapies can contribute to lowering a person’s risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis C by reducing the potential for relapse. There are so many benefits of medicated assisted treatment, not only are lives saved, but lives are changed!
What are your thoughts about medicated assisted treatment?
Do you know someone who did MAT and had a success story?
To find treatment facilities confidentially, 24/7, please call 1-800-662-4357 (HELP)
September is a time for people to come together to share their stories and resources to help spread awareness in the hope of preventing another individual from taking their own life. This is also a time to spread hope and share vital information to people affected by suicide. This is why September is National Suicide prevention Month.
Who Does Suicide Affect?
Suicide affects all ages. In 2020, suicide was among the top 9 leading causes of death for people ages 10-64. Suicide was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-14 and 25-34. According to the CDC, suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States, with 45,979 deaths in 2020. This is about one death every 11 minutes. Firearms account for 50% of suicide and women attempt suicide three times more frequently than men; however, men are three times more likely to die by suicide.
Suicide is highly linked to mental health disorders such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, and depression and also affects individuals who are struggling with a substance abuse disorder or an eating disorder.
What Are Suicidal Warning Signs?
Warning signs that a loved one might be depressed or suicidal include:
● Frequently talking about self-harming behavior and suicide, or portraying themselves in a negative light
● Distancing themselves emotionally from loved ones
● A loss of interest in activities that once brought them joy, such as playing sports, participating in hobbies, and spending time with friends
● Unpredictable changes in eating or sleeping habits, often accompanied by neglecting personal hygiene
● Desperate attempts to regain lost friends, such as succumbing to peer pressure to engage in unhealthy habits such as drug use
● A decline in school or work performance
● Asking questions associated with death and/or suicide
● Giving away prized belongings
What Can We Do To Help?
When an individual is going through a hard time, sometimes it is hard for them to ask for help. The person struggling may be ashamed to ask for help, may not have a support system to be able to receive help or maybe too scared that finances could get in the way. As a family member, friend, coworker or loved one, it is imperative that we take our time to listen to individuals who are struggling and try to steer them in the right direction to receive professional help. Understanding the underlying reason these suicidal ideations are occurring, is essential to learn how to overcomes this particular struggle and develop healthy coping skills to combat and future setbacks.
How Can Social Workers Help?
Social Workers play an important role in preventing suicide by delivering universal, targeted, and individual prevention programs. Social workers need to use the best assessment tools for assessing suicide risk and receive continuous training on how to talk to patients about suicidal thoughts. Some say many clinicians are uncomfortable speaking to clients about suicide and warns this can drive away patients who need care most. In speaking to clients about suicidal thoughts Dr. Alonzo, a Professor at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service suggests clinicians:
● Create an accepting, safe, non-judgmental space for clients to disclose suicidal thoughts ● Maintain a transparent, neutral stance throughout the interview
● Consider the number and timing of questions
● Convey to the client that alternatives to suicide exist even though they may be hard to identify at this time
● Personalize treatment.
Remember, don’t be afraid to ask someone how they feel, if something is wrong or if you share with them that you have noticed they are not their usual self, listen without judgment.
If you or someone you know is going through a suicidal crisis, call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Lifeline provides confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
You can also contact the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Both services provide 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
On Thursday, September 8, 2022, a Zoom informational session regarding the compact took place. Matt Shafer, the Associate Director of Public Policy at The Council of State Governments, and Keith Buckhout, the Research Associate at The Council of State
Governments, lead the session. Although the compact's language is currently unofficial and in its draft form, the Council hopes this legislation will be ready for introduction during the 2023 state legislative sessions.
What is a compact anyway?
The compact will allow licensed social workers to acquire an additional license to facilitate multi-state practice among member states and reduce the barriers to license portability. Matt and Keith simplified it nicely by comparing it to a drivers license; you can use it to drive anywhere your license is permitted, but you must obey the laws in that state. The only caveat is that the compact will only allow you to practice in the states that are legally bound to the compact.
For clinical social workers to acquire the additional licensure that will facilitate multi-state practice among member states, they must hold an active license in their home state as well as:
1. Have an MSW or higher from an accredited program.
2. Have passed a clinical-category national licensure exam.
3. Have completed 3,000 hours or two years of full-time, post-graduate supervised clinical practice.
Steps to take before September 16!
The Council of State Governments recognizes that many questions still do not have answers, such as which states will join the compact and the costs for the licensure. That is because the compact is still in its infancy and more work needs to be done. BUT there is something we can all do right now. An initial language draft is open for review on the compact's website. Upon review of the compact, it is strongly encouraged to provide feedback, thoughts, questions, or concerns regarding the draft. The Council has provided a link on its website to follow for any comments regarding the draft.
THIS NEEDS TO BE COMPLETED BEFORE FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2022, SO PLEASE DON'T WAIT!
CLICK HERE FOR THE LINK TO THE COMPACT WEBSITE
President Joe Biden announced his plan to “forgive” $10,000 of student debt for qualifying, low- to middle-income borrowers, while Pell grant recipients may get up to $20,000 in student loan forgiveness. This plan could affect roughly 43 million federal student loan borrows nationwide, although not all of them would qualify. To take advantage of President Biden’s loan forgiveness plan, applicants must make less than $125k a year as a single person, or $250k married or as head of household. They would also have had to take the federal loan out before July 2022. With historically low-income wages and the cost of higher education on the rise, many wonder if this relief is enough. Federal aid and Pell Grants used to cover up to 80 percent of someone’s college tuition, but today it only covers a third.
How does this affect minorities and people of color?
For those with relatively smaller loans, Biden’s plan is a dream come true, while for others, it barley moves the needle. For example, the average student borrower has a loan debt exceeding $30,000, but for women of color, the number is much higher. On average, Black women are in debt about $41,000, with Native American women owing about $36,000. White women, on the other hand, are on the lower end owing about $33,000 according to the American Association of University Women. While minorities will be receiving the shorter end of the stick with this plan, another affected population will be lower income Americans. The Penn Wharton Budget Model showed that about 70% of overall debt forgiveness would go to the top 60% of Americans by income, meaning individuals making between $82,400 and $141,096 would receive the greatest share of overall forgiveness, at 28.1%.
But is it really that bad?
Of course not. Anytime the federal government wants to give back to its students, it’s much appreciated. In addition to the student federal loan forgiveness program, President Biden also added the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. This program would allow qualifying public servants, that have federal student debt, and have also made 120 payments towards their loan to have the remaining balance be forgiven.
Impact on Social Work
This program would encourage people to join the profession and fill the urgent need for more social workers. By eliminating the constant worry of paying for school, people would feel more motivated to receive a social work education and ultimately, more social justice could be done in communities. Student loan debt can weight on a person’s mental health, even social workers. It has been said
that most people in their professions feel like they cannot give their best in their career because of the financial burden hanging over their head. Some people may have to get second jobs just to make ends meet. This can be very stressful. So, is this relief a good thing? Is it enough? What do you think about the student loan forgiveness plan?
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.