Why MAT Matters
The HIPS MAT for OUD (Medically Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder) program is known for taking the patients others won’t — whether they suffer from complex trauma, chronic homelessness, or years of mistrust of the medical establishment. HIPS MAT meets patients where they are and we get results that others don’t.
HIPS MAT is a truly transformative program. It is built on new systems of care for individuals who use drugs that for centers on dismantling the barriers caused by systemic racism as opposed to replicating them. HIPS does this by understanding that, for Black folks, the impacts of opioid use disorder are interconnected with issues of systemic racism such as housing instability.
Our MAT program works closely with other HIPS staff to ensure wrap-around services such as housing case management, syringe exchange, and mental health care are being provided to our patients. “I would not be alive if it weren’t for HIPS.” We hear this from many of our patients. Not only do we provide life-saving MAT for OUD, we also are known for “bending over backwards” to help our patients in any way we can.
This past year overdose deaths in DC were the highest they have been; nearly 25% higher than the prior year. Without the HIPS MAT clinic those rates would be even higher. The MAT clinic provides care to some of the most vulnerable individuals in the city. The MAT clinic continues transforming the systems of life saving care that prioritize affirming individuals humanity in the face of harmful systemic barriers.
Although other health care centers were overwhelmed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, HIPS continued to provide care to people with OUD and was notably the only community-based MAT clinic in the DC metro area to induct new patients between March and December 2020, initiating 111 new patients during that time.
A large proportion of our clients have no insurance, leaving the MAT Clinic uncompensated for our work. These clients would face massive barriers to receiving care from most clinics, but at HIPS their insurance status is not a prerequisite.
HIPS MAT retention rates are substantially higher than national rates and highlight the success of our low-threshold model of care, especially when viewed in light of the fact that two thirds of our patients are homeless, and many have been kicked out of other programs.
One of the questions that we ask when speaking with clients is: who do you have for social support? Who can you turn to when you’re struggling with your recovery? An answer that we often receive is: “I have HIPS.” It’s typical for our patients to live in environments where drug use is all around them. To be able to speak with them and provide support is often what keeps them from resuming drug use.
Simply put, MAT is a lifeline to those who need it most.