We’re bringing attention to a project that has been instrumental in fighting for respectful, science-based, and effective treatment for addiction to heroin and other opiates – The Medication Assisted Recovery Services (MARS) program. Since 2005, MARS (a peer-initiated and peer-based recovery support project) has worked to inspire the transformation of medication-assisted treatment into medication-assisted recovery. The project was initiated by a group of methadone maintenance patients, as well as other individuals who play an essential role in the field of methadone maintenance. It is MARS’ mission to provide peer support services and training to the medication-assisted recovery community. They design, implement and evaluate selected peer-delivered recovery support services to complement existing treatment programs.
MARS is different from other drug recovery and rehabilitation programs in that it focuses on training for peer-driven treatment. This means that support services and treatment suggestions are developed and provided by individuals (recovery coaches) who have firsthand experience dealing with addiction to heroin and other opioids, and these individuals are currently helping to deliver their message to those in need of help. In addition to this vital training, members of MARS work together to schedule speaking engagements, advocacy meetings, and events, as well as engaging consultation services- all with the goal of enhancing medication-assisted treatment efforts and removing the stigma attached to addiction.
According to Walter Ginter, MARS Project Director, “People from all over the country have been asking how they can replicate the unique MARS model at their own programs and we’re enthusiastic about offering this much-needed training. As far as we know, there is no other training like this being offered anywhere in the country.” Ginter continued, “As a nationally-recognized program with a long history of positive outcomes, MARS is uniquely qualified to develop this training and bring it to the medication-assisted recovery community nationwide. Participants will come away with valuable information, insight, skills, and most importantly the ability to implement the MARS model in their programs.”
MARS offers a number of different training programs to spur the education and development of recovery coaches. Recovery coaches are peers who have been professionally trained to work with individuals addicted to opiates like heroin and prescription painkillers and are specially trained to guide addicted individuals through the long process of recovery. These multi-level training program offerings by MARS include:
The Beyond MARS Training Institute- A program that shows other treatment centers how to duplicate the MARS treatment method, a peer-based system focused on recovery, support, and education. This program offers a variety of training for patients, recovery coaches, and addiction professionals, and works to improve treatment outcomes and fight to reverse the negative stigma placed on medication-assisted addiction treatment.
The Beyond MARS Recovery Coach Training- A 30-hour training program designed for individuals seeking to become Certified Addiction Recovery Coaches (CARC).
The Beyond MARS Ethics Training for Recovery Coaches – An additional 15 hours of ethics training for Recovery Coaches, designed for both coaches as well as their supervisors.
The Beyond MARS Medication-Assisted Treatment(MAT)Training – A 4-hour training program developed by the National Alliance for Medication-Assisted Recovery
The original MARS project has grown exponentially from its initial development at the Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York, and offers a wide range of training and technical assistance services for both patients and staff members across the United States. The growing MARS Community currently includes ten programs. We at CAP Medical Clinics depend on programs like the MARS project to get the word out about the importance of medication-assisted drug treatment programs throughout the country. For more information on MARS, visit their website at http://marsproject.org/