The National Alliance for Medication Assisted Recovery (NAMA Recovery) is an organization comprised of and led by individuals living in medication assisted recovery from opioid use disorder, health care professionals, and family of individuals with opioid use disorder that are supporters of quality, comprehensive treatment that includes medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD).
NAMA Recovery has thousands of members worldwide with a network of international affiliated organizations and chapters in many places in the United States.
The primary objective of NAMA Recovery is to advocate for patients who utilize a medication for opioid use disorder by destigmatizing and empowering patients.
First and foremost, NAMA Recovery confronts the negative stereotypes that impact on the self-esteem and worth of many patients with a powerful affirmation of pride and unity.
Eliminate discrimination toward patients whose recovery is aided by a medication for opioid use disorder.
CREATE A POSITIVE IMAGE
Create a more positive image about medications for opioid use disorder.
PRESERVE DIGNITY & RIGHTS
Help preserve buprenorphine and methadone patients’ dignity and their rights.
Empower patients who take medication for opioid use disorder with a strong public voice.
Make quality, comprehensive treatment that includes medication for opioid use disorder available on demand for every individual who needs it.
Since its beginning over 50 years ago methadone maintenance has been the most effective treatment for opioid use disorder. As we have seen since its FDA approval for opioid use disorder in 2001, buprenorphine (Suboxone/Subutex/Zubsolv/Sublocade) is coming in a close second to methadone in effectiveness, especially for patients with shorter addiction histories and lower tolerances. Evaluations worldwide over the past five decades have shown that methadone maintenance is the most successful treatment for opioid use disorder, resulting in the termination both of problematic opioid use and of criminal behavior. In spite of their success, methadone and buprenorphine maintenance are often disparaged as a “substitute drugs” by those who ignore the positive benefits that they have clearly brought to society.
Such attitudes negatively impact treatment that involves medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) in a variety of ways, but it is the MOUD 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. This atmosphere will not change without an organization and formal mechanism for MOUD 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 Opioid Dependence) held in New York, the Board of Directors announced an important change to NAMA’s identity. The organization would now be doing business as the National Alliance for Medication Assisted Recovery (NAMA Recovery) in recognition of the fact that methadone was no longer the only FDA approved medication shown to be effective in treating opioid use disorder.
Today NAMA Recovery has grown to over approximately 15,000 members representing the 50 states, Puerto Rico and 12 countries. NAMA Recovery 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 Recovery created the Medication Assisted Treatment Advocate Training to train and certify patients and professionals to advocate for Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). NAMA Recovery followed this with the development of the MARS Project in 2006 that provides peer recovery support services to persons receiving medication for opioid use disorder. There are seventeen MARS Projects operating in the US and four in Vietnam.
A patient advocacy organization comprised of and focused specifically on the use of medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) can work on many levels to bring about changes. The primary objective of NAMA Recovery is to advocate for the patient in treatment by destigmatizing and empowering MOUD patients. First and foremost, it can confront the negative stereotypes that impact on the self-esteem and worth of MOUD patients with a powerful affirmation of pride and unity.
NAMA Recovery works to correct the misconceptions about methadone and buprenorphine treatment and overcome the prejudice directed against patients and medications to treat opioid use disorder.
NAMA Recovery strives to educate communities and policy makers about the benefits of MOUD 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 MOUD patients feel ashamed of the very treatment that has helped them. They feel alone, no longer engaged in the chaos of active opioid use disorder but still not a part of society, and with nowhere to turn for support. Despite these realities faced by many MOUD patients, the majority of MOUD patients have proven themselves capable and successful in the practical world, across a variety of career paths and as leaders in their communities.
NAMA Recovery exists for MOUD patients, and NAMA Recovery is the only national organization founded by and governed by a majority of individuals whose recovery was facilitated by MOUD.