The Gateway Foundation of Pekin honored the first graduates of its Medication-Assisted Treatment program at a ceremony Monday at the Tazewell County Justice Center.

Recidivism Reduction with Medication-Assisted Treatment (RRMAT) combines the use of FDA-approved medication with counseling and behavioral therapies, to comprehensively treat substance use disorder. Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) can be used for both opioid use disorder and alcohol use disorder. The Gateway Foundation of Pekin established a RRMAT program in June.

“The Gateway Foundation was one of six providers to receive a federal grant to start a new program specifically targeting individuals within the jail population,” said Ravi Doshi, Gateway Foundation case manager. “We have a two-pronged approach. First, we offer a Vivitrol (a medication indicated for prevention of relapse to opioid and alcohol dependence) injection before the individual is released from jail. The second and most important aspect of our program is the recovery coaching. A client partners with a coach who helps with transportation, housing and employment.”

The purpose of the RRMAT program is to provide support for clients to meet basic needs and MAT services to help prevent relapses, Doshi said. Recent data indicates that offenders with a history of opioid abuse are at high risk of overdosing within 14 days of being released from incarceration. Criminal offenders with a history of alcohol abuse are at considerable risk of continuing to abuse alcohol after their release from jail. 

“The program has helped me by teaching me new coping skills,” said RRMAT graduate Ashley Davis. “It also gave me an introduction to 12-step programs, and the Vivitrol really does help with cravings for alcohol. Learning all the things there are to learn about addiction and the tools you can use have been a lot of help.”

To enroll in the RRMAT program, clients must have a history of dependence on alcohol or opiates and a date they will be released from custody at the Tazewell County Jail, said Doshi. The Tazewell County Jail is one of seven Illinois institutions participating in the program.

“When we have the opportunity to provide a program that has potential to turn lives around, save families and save individual lives, we’re certainly happy to do that,” said Tazewell County Sheriff Robert Huston. “We truly appreciate being able to do this, congratulate everyone and wish you all the best.”

For more information on Gateway Foundation MAT programs, visit gatewayfoundation.org/resources/medication-assisted-treatment.