national alliance for medication assisted recovery

Dear Advocates:

Since its beginning over 50 years ago methadone

maintenance has been the most effective treatment for narcotic addiction.

Evaluations worldwide over the past five decades have shown that methadone maintenance

is the most successful treatment for opiate addiction, resulting in the

termination both of opiate drug use and of criminal behavior.  In

spite of its success, methadone maintenance is often dispged

as a “substitute drug” by those who ignore the positive benefits

that it has clearly brought to society. 

Such attitudes negatively impact on methadone treatment in a variety of ways, but

it is the methadone patients themselves who are particularly

stigmatized and harmed. Patients are mistreated and misinformed and

considered as social outcasts. They are victims of discrimination in

health care, the job market, education, insurance and housing. Even

treatment professionals are often ashamed to admit that they work in

this field. This atmosphere will not change as long as there is

no organization or formal mechanism for methadone patients to voice

their own needs and to form a strong, unified public presence on

their behalf.

The idea of a methadone advocacy organization was

conceived in the Fall of 1988 when a group of current and former

methadone patients and professionals in the field began meeting

to discuss the possibility of forming one. The name, National

Alliance for Methadone Advocates (NAMA) was chosen and the many

issues that NAMA could address were discussed by the group. There

was a tremendous amount of work ahead for the organization to reverse the years

of stigma and misinformation about methadone maintenance

treatment.  

On April 26, 2009 at the AATOD Conference (American Association for the Treatment of Opiate Dependence)

held in New York the Board of Directors announced an important change to NAMAs identity it would now be doing business as the National Alliance for Medication Assisted Recovery 

(see Press Release). 

(pdf format) 

Today NAMA-R has grown to over approximately

15,000 members representing the 50 states, Puerto Rico and 12

countries. NAMA-R is proud to have inspired the formation of other

affiliated advocacy groups throughout the world.  Currently

over twenty affiliated groups exist in the United States as well as

several in Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Italy, Norway and

Sweden.   In 2004 NAMA-R created the Medication Assisted Treatment Advocate Training 

to train and certify patients and professionals to advocate for Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT).

NAMA-R followed this with the development of the MARS Project in 2006 that provides peer recovery support services to persons receiving MAT. There are seventeen MARS Projects operating in the US and four in Vietnam.

A methadone and buprenorphine advocacy organization can work

on many levels to bring about changes.  The primary objective

of NAMA-R is to advocate for the patient in treatment by

destigmatizing and empowering MAT patients.  First and

foremost, it can confront the negative stereotypes that impact on

the self esteem and worth of MAT patients with a powerful

affirmation of pride and unity. 

NAMA-R works to correct

the misconceptions about methadone and buprenorphine treatment and

overcome the prejudice directed against patients and medications to treat opiate addiction.

NAMA-R strives to educate communities and policy makers about the benefits

of MAT and responds to the negative and

sensationalized media, supports the growth of local advocacy groups,

advocates for treatment on demand and provides a platform whereby

methadone and buprenorphine patients can express their concerns about their

quality of life.

Today, many medication assisted treatment patients feel ashamed of the very treatment that has helped them. They feel alone, no longer “dope fiends” but still not a part of society, and with nowhere to turn for support. This situation is hardly conducive to rehabilitation. Yet the majority of MAT patients have proven themselves capable and successful in the practical world, as lawyers and waitresses, construction workers and housewives, teachers and cab drivers.

NAMA-R‘s Goals are:

  • To eliminate discrimination toward methadone and buprenorphine patients.
  • To create a more positive image about methadone and buprenorphine treatment.
  • To help preserve patient’s dignity and their rights.
  • To make treatment available on demand to every person who needs it.
  • To empower methadone and buprenorphine patients with a strong public voice.

Please complete the Membership Form and

return it. The annual membership fee is only $25. This includes a

subscription to The NAMA-R Advocate the official publication of NAMA.

And if you can afford it, won’t you consider

including a donation to help compensate the cost of those who

cannot pay for their membership. NAMA-R does not receive the

support that other advocacy organizations enjoy, primarily because

of the stigma and prejudice towards this treatment and those who

receive it.  We are sure that you can appreciate this and

realize the difficulty NAMA-R has encountered in maintaining support

for our activities. We, therefore must depend on you.

NAMA-R works on a national level and at the local level by assisting our

existing chapters and promoting the organization of new groups.

Presently at the federal level NAMA-R has patient representatives

sitting on the Accreditation Stakeholders Committee, the Physician

Prescribing Committee, the NIH Council of

Public Representatives (COPR) and NAMA-R is a NIDA Constituent Organization. At the state level many of our representatives

are members of the methadone policy making committee, including New York, California,

Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Washington, North Carolina and Vermont.

These are all important indications that methadone treatment

will be changing. When NAMA-R was started back in 1988 the views of patients were not representated

at any level. NAMA-R was the catalyst to make these changes occur. We are therefore at the beginning of

an exciting new era of methadone treatment where the patient’s

voice is heard, but we need your continued support to be there for you.

Help us to continue the struggle to end the discrimination and

stigma directed towards methadone patients and to work for the

day when people are judged not by the medication they take, but by

the contributions they make to their family, community and

society.

You can join NAMA-R by completing the

Membership Form.

Together, we can make a difference.

Together, we can change the world!

National Alliance for Medication Assisted Recovery, Inc.

435 Second Avenue

New York, NY 10010

Phone/Fax (212) 595-NAMA (6262)