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Mother seeks to break stigma around medication-assisted treatment

Samantha Binienda speaks with NBC 10 News on how medication-assisted treatment has helped her recovery process.{ }
Samantha Binienda speaks with NBC 10 News on how medication-assisted treatment has helped her recovery process.
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A Rhode Island mother is trying to break the stigma of using a drug to treat opioid addiction.

She takes methadone, something a doctor can prescribe you, to stay clean.

Samantha Binienda's struggle with opioids began when she was 18-years-old.

"I used Percocet for a long time like many years until it got too expensive, and then I switched to heroin it was cheaper and easier to get," Binienda told NBC 10.

What was cheaper and easier quickly spiraled out of control. And at the time, Binienda had a daughter, so she wanted to get clean.

For her, medication-assisted treatment worked. This past December marks four years in recovery and the birth of her son.

While pregnant, Binienda stayed on methadone. She still takes methadone and she wants to break the stigma today about it, which she tells NBC 10, still very much exists, even within the recovery community itself.

"Going to meetings and stuff they look down on you," she said. "They don't consider it being in recovery, sober if you're on methadone. So I didn't go to meetings I went to my councilor at CODAC and stayed away from anyone else who I thought was using."

"Recovery is this huge thing, and we are becoming so vocal in reducing stigma and we need to reduce stigma in our own circles," added Binienda's supervisor Stacey Levin with the Parent Support Network Of Rhode Island.

Binienda is an outreach worker now at PSNRI and soon she will split up her time to help new mothers too.

"I think [Binienda] is great, a quick learner and very passionate about helping other people," Levin said. "I believe her recovery story is going to save someone's life because they're going to realize that they're okay."

According to state data, methadone is one of the three FDA-approved medications to treat opioid use disorders, and in the last reported quarter of 2022, 5,899 people received methadone. That number is slightly down from the year before.

To reach more people, a one-of-a-kind mobile methadone unit was created to reach as many people as possible to improve community health. It's these sorts of models, Levin and Binienda say, that help to save lives.

"I live everyday now a sober life, and I'm able to take care of my kids and work and do everything everyone else does on medication," Binienda said.

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