Document Type


Publication Date



The rates of heroin addiction and opiate overdoses have skyrocketed in America in the last decade. The government’s response is to expand the availability of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). Because social workers can be expected to be a significant component of the workforce in providing MAT, MAT is relevant to social workers. Many social workers who are working in the area of addictions do not hold favorable views of MAT. This paper considers their objections and evaluates the validity of the basis for these objections. The rationale for the government’s approach is provided and validity of the rationale for the MAT approach is evaluated. The “pros” and “cons” of methadone and buprenorphine are reviewed. The paper distinguishes, beneficial treatment for the individual from the long term impact of a change in policy on the society.


Author accepted manuscript version of an article published in:

Littrell, J. (2016). Expanding access to Medication Assisted Treatment: The U.S. government’s response to the current heroin epidemic. Social Work in Mental Health, 1–21. doi: 10.1080/15332985.2016.1210555

Included in

Social Work Commons