Research Spotlight

Perceptions and acceptance of an intervention on Medication-Assisted Treatments for recovery home residents

A Pilot Program

Research from I-STARR Co-I Jason Leonard, PhD (pictured) and colleagues describes the first time a recovery home organization has both developed and evaluated an educational workshop aimed at encouraging the use of medication-assisted treatments (MATs) and NARCAN (naloxone) to prevent/reduce opioid overdoses. The one-hour program involving the use, misuse, and recovery potential of MATs and the opioid overdose reversal properties of NARCAN occurred for Oxford House residents who participated in 2019 (N = 522) and in 2021 (N = 887).

An informational intervention on the use of MATs was developed and presented by the Oxford House training and education coordinator, and former resident, in Texas. The one-hour informational intervention was administered via Zoom or in person. Information was presented on the use, misuse, and recovery potential of MATs for the treatment of OUD. The workshop attempted to show residents that MATs were safe and effective and that MATs improved the quality of life and lowered the chances of relapse.

The program reviewed how MAT and MAR were defined; the types of approved medications (i.e., Suboxone, Methadone, Vivitrol, and Sublocade); the effects of the medications, lengths, doses, and doctor/counselor issues with MAR programs, and myths about MATs.

For example, myths exposed included that MATs are only for the weak, long-term use is bad, and use of MATs is not true recovery. The program reviewed how individuals on MATs who are dosed correctly would not show signs or symptoms of being intoxicated, nor indicate they had been under the influence of narcotics. The residents were informed that it was illegal to discriminate against people using MATs and that the law stipulated reasonable accommodations needed to be made.

The presentation also covered how overdose happens; how to recognize overdoses (e.g., unresponsive, pale skin, blue nails, pinpoint pupils, slow pulse, labored breath); how to respond to an overdose by opening airways and ventilating; the recovery potential of NARCAN (naloxone) for the reversal of opioid overdose; and what should occur after the event (i.e., document the event, and offer help and support).

The presenter discussed the different opioid drug names and brand names and the effects of opioids on the brain. The residents were provided information about how NARCAN works as well as the ways to administer NARCAN (intra-nasal and intra-muscular). All houses had NARCAN within them, and they were told that it was important to verify its location at every house meeting, not to lock it up, to check the expiration date, and if expired to contact an outreach worker for a new dose. Everyone was provided the phone number of the training and education coordinator who could be contacted if more information was needed.

Post-intervention ratings indicated that resident ratings indicated that recovery home residents acknowledged that they were able to recognize and reverse an opioid overdose, properly administer naloxone, and potentially save the life of someone who is overdosing on opioids. The findings suggest that this program might be effectively administered in recovery homes, and future studies will need to determine if the program is able to change attitudes and behaviors of residents.

Bobak, T.J., Arjmand, N., O’Brien, C., Islam, M., &  Jason, L.A. (2023). A pilot program focusing on perceptions and acceptance of an intervention on Medication-Assisted Treatments for recovery home residents. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 41(4), 386-393.

Read the full paper.


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