LITTLE ROCK — The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) recently received $3 million from the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) to compensate facilities across the state providing opioid use disorder patients with medication-assisted treatment.

The money will allow medical providers to offer treatment for opioid use disorder to patients without insurance or the ability to pay for services. This new effort is an offshoot of MATRIARC (Medication Assisted Treatment Recovery Initiative for Arkansas Rural Communities), a partnership between the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute and DHS.

Medication-assisted treatment involves the use of medication to relieve cravings and withdrawal symptoms along with counseling and support to overcome the use of opioids. This includes methadone, which can only be dispensed through an opiate treatment program, products containing buprenorphine that require a federal waiver for prescribers and injectable naltrexone, which does not require special qualifications for prescribing.

Research has shown that a combination of medication-assisted treatment and behavioral therapy can successfully treat opioid use disorder and help sustain recovery.

The funds will cover expenses including the cost of medication, hiring peer support specialists, providing treatment services and even travel costs for patients using medication-assisted treatment.

“We are really the stewards of the money; our job is to give it away,” said Michael Mancino, M.D., a professor of the UAMS College of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry, who oversees the MATRIARC program. “We are working with clinics already providing medication-assisted treatment to people below the poverty line, so they don’t have to turn anyone away. We look forward to continuing these efforts with previous and new awardees.”

The following clinics have been awarded grants to provide office-based medication-assisted treatment for individuals with opioid use disorders: A Better You Med Spa of Springdale; Aurora Rehabilitation Clinic of Fayetteville; Compassionate Care Clinic of Searcy; Counseling Services of Jacksonville; The Guinn Clinic of El Dorado; Healing Hands Addiction Center of Warren; Ideal Option of Pasco, Washington; Ouachita Behavioral Health & Wellness of Hot Springs; River Valley Medical Wellness of Russellville; St Francis House, NWA of Springdale; and Western Arkansas Counseling & Guidance Center of Fort Smith. The total number of counties that will have access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders based on the areas covered by the awarded agencies is 44 of the 75 in Arkansas.

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