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United Counseling Service (UCS) launches Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) program

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United Counseling Service (UCS) will offer outpatient Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) to help meet the growing need for opioid use disorder treatment services in Bennington County. The program will be run by Substance Use Services at UCS and involves the administration of buprenorphine, which in different preparations is used to help patients detoxify from illicit opiates, reduce overdose risk, and maintain long-term recovery from opioid misuse. 

MAT is used alongside other therapeutic tools to help people with opioid use disorder (OUD) reduce or stop opioid misuse. Medications used in MAT, such as buprenorphine, work by blocking the effects of opioids in the brain, which ultimately helps people struggling with OUD to reach and sustain recovery. MAT also helps to prevent overdose due to its ability to help individuals reduce opioid use. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), MAT has been proven to increase patient survival rates, decrease opioid misuse and associated criminal activity, help people secure jobs, and facilitate healthier birth outcomes for pregnant people with OUD. 

Increasing the availability of MAT programs is an important step in treating opioid use disorder, its symptoms, and negative effects of substance misuse on communities. MAT, in combination with other tools such as counseling, offers individuals a greater likelihood of maintaining recovery from OUD. With 12 opioid overdose deaths per year in Bennington County since 2018 and 212 opioid-related accidental and undetermined deaths among Vermont residents by the end of 2022, the need for substance use services across the state has never been higher. UCS seeks to meet the needs of Bennington County amid a shortage of MAT programs in the community. 

“The goal of this new MAT program at UCS is to meet a critical need in our community as mental health and substance use challenges increase by the day,” says Lorna Mattern, Executive Director at UCS. “This is a significant step toward filling a gap in substance use disorder (SUD) treatment that is felt throughout Bennington County.”

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