Patients in need of addiction treatment have a new option in southeast Iowa.

A clinic opened in Burlington this week offering opioid users medication-assisted treatment, or MAT. Nicholas Foss oversees treatment services at the clinic. Paired with counseling, Foss says drugs like methadone and suboxone can treat cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

“That way that’s out of the equation for the recovery and then you can focus on the counseling a little bit better,” Foss says, “and the person can go to work and they can function and they can be a family member and be productive in society rather than constantly getting sick.” Staff members at the clinic hope to counteract the stigma opioid users face. Foss says some still see this approach as a crutch, even other recovering users.

“There is stigma around it unfortunately,” Foss says. “I think people really want to see people with addictions to suffer through it, go through withdrawal, get really sick and get clean. My question is, is that really working well right now?” A growing body of research shows MAT helps patients recover and prevents overdoses.

Foss hopes the patients who need it give it a chance. He says some Burlington-area patients have been driving two-and-a-half-hours to Des Moines daily to get MAT treatment.

(Thanks to Kate Payne, Iowa Public Radio)