Volume XIII, Issue XXVII - March 2020

Medication Assisted Recovery (MAR)

From: Danielle L. Kirby, Director Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery

A few years ago, our Division changed its name from the Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (DASA) to the Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery (SUPR). In addition to removing stigmatizing language from the Division's name, this new name supports our commitment to the prevention of, and recovery from, substance use disorders. Additionally, it speaks to our recognition that, though we focus on treatment, there are many pathways to recovery and that our ultimate goal is recovery.

We are also making progress in reorienting the system from focusing solely on the traditional acute care approach to a chronic care approach. Shifting to a chronic care approach requires the entire system, including prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery management to embrace a recovery-oriented approach. Long term recovery from substance use disorders is dependent upon a continued connection to care and the delivery of services that are not only responsive to individuals' use of alcohol and other drugs, but their co-occurring trauma effects, mental health, physical health and ongoing recovery related concerns as well.

Medication Assisted Recovery (MAR) has proven successful in assisting with the shift to a chronic care approach. MAR is the use of evidence-based FDA approved medications (e.g., methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone, disulfiram, acamprosate) by individuals with a substance use disorder (SUD) to support their recovery. IDHS/SUPR recognizes that individuals who identify in recovery and take medications to manage their SUD are in recovery.

IDHS/SUPR endorses MAR as an evidence-based approach for individuals with a SUD. These FDA approved medications are particularly effective in treatment for an alcohol use disorder (AUD) or an opioid use disorder (OUD) as they provide stabilization in the initial phase of recovery and long-term support for recovery from this chronic disease.

Ideally, IDHS/SUPR supports the use of medications along with treatment and other recovery supports as the preferred approach to MAR. However, a medication first model, which is generally referred to as MOUD or pharmacotherapy, should always be a starting point and individuals should not be prohibited from medications for an OUD or AUD if they do not accept treatment or other recovery supports. Likewise, individuals should not be denied supportive housing (e.g., recovery residences) if they are taking medication. In both cases, MAR assists these individuals, who identify in recovery, to achieve their goals and to sustain this achievement long after treatment or other recovery supports have ended.

To help your organization implement MAR and expand recovery services in Illinois, IDHS/SUPR has developed four new guidelines:

  1. Harm Reduction for Opioid Use Disorder
  2. Medication-Assisted Recovery (MAR)
  3. Recovery Homes & MAR
  4. Illinois ROSC Principles

To view each guideline, please visit: https://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=122884.