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New grant will expand MAT access in Metro East area

Methadone and similar drugs are legal synthetic opioids that are used to help block the cravings and withdrawal symptoms of people trying to wean themselves off prescription painkillers or heroin.
Michell Eloy/WABE
Methadone and similar drugs are legal synthetic opioids that are used to help block the cravings and withdrawal symptoms of people trying to wean themselves off prescription painkillers or heroin.

Centerstone is expanding medication assisted treatment for opioid use in the Metro East area thanks to a new grant.

Medication assisted treatment involves the use of medications to help treat opioid use disorders. The treatment helps reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings and help people stay off opioids while getting counseling. It can also prevent overdoses.

Clinical coordinator Jennifer Miller said it works because opioid withdrawal can be severe, with physical symptoms that make it difficult for people to stop taking opioids.

"How I tend to conceptualize it to people, is think of the worst flu or like strep you've ever had, a specific sickness you've ever had, times that by about ten, and try to picture going about your daily life," Miller said.

Project Director Taylor Marks said the grant is needed because of the widespread use of opioids in Illinois.

"Specifically in Illinois, 80 percent of drug overdose involves opioids, compared to 70 percent nationally. SO we are experiencing more of these overdoses in Illinois than across the board," Marks said. "And they also cause twice as many deaths as car crashes."

The five-year, $2.6 million grant will expand access to services, allowing the organization to treat 350 additional patients. The agency says they will begin to see new patients covered under the grant by the end of December.

Steph Whiteside is a Digital Media News Specialist with WSIU radio in Carbondale, Ill. She previously worked as a general reporter at AJ+ and Current TV.
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