The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Rehabilitation Counseling: M.S.


Community Psychology, Counseling and Family Therapy


School of Health and Human Services

First Advisor

Dr. Amy Knopf

Second Advisor

Dr. Susan Dowds

Third Advisor

Peter Eischens

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

opioid(s), buprenorphine, methadone, medicated assisted treatment, length of treatment, harm reduction, counseling.


Opioid addiction has been on the rise since 1990, when physicians began administering prescription pain medications. The population has undergone a drastic change from opioid prescriptions such as oxycodone to illicit forms, such as heroin, to aid pain management. Illegal opiates became the alternative drug at a lower cost to fulfill cravings and dependence that prescriptions may no longer feed. With a rise in dependence, pharmaceutical laboratories developed medicated assistant treatments (MAT) to aid in this crisis, more formally known as buprenorphine and methadone. Studies conducted show evidence of a decrease in illicit opioid use when using these medicated treatments and can lead to successful retention of the addiction. The users' experiences are often overlooked in terms of how administration occurs and when the taper of these therapies begins. Anecdotal findings suggest that prescribers continue to prescribe medications with intended harm reduction approaches instead of focusing on abstinence. This study focuses on the history of opioid prescription, addiction, and medical information regarding medication therapy, harm reduction, and the deliverance of why persons administered MAT has been prescribed for an extended amount of time. This study focuses on who is primarily responsible for the length of MAT treatment. Interviews with persons previously or currently prescribed medication-assisted treatment will initiate personal experiences to conclude whether the client or physician controls MAT administration length. Recommendations of participants will be discussed regarding their opinions on the length of treatment.


I would like to thank my faculty advisor, Dr. Knopf, for the strength and guidance to pursue this thesis. She has a demanding nature to her personality, which helped me excel in accomplishing this thesis. Her excellent insight was so important as I started this project. I would also like to recognize Dr. Dowds for her incredible feedback while composing research methodology. She provided me with critical feedback to ensure preparation for publication. Pete Eischens, for contributing his perspectives on substance abuse and the notion of harm reduction. Thank you to all the participants who provided personal stories and experiences which enabled this study. Their willingness to speak about their addiction and share their beliefs regarding the length of time they were prescribed medicated assisted therapy. I sincerely wish them the best in their recovery. A thank you to my family for providing me with endless support while reaching my academic goals, with special thanks to my brother. Inspiring to pursue this topic of study. And lastly, to my significant other, who always reminds me when I am struggling, "if it were easy, everyone would do it." Again, I want to thank everyone who made this journey possible. Without all the help and support, I would never have achieved the goal of completing this thesis.



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