Three Reasons to Reconsider Medication Assisted (Addiction) Treatment

Three Reasons to Reconsider Medication Assisted (Addiction) Treatment

If someone you love is considering entering recovery from opioid addiction, know that their first few months without using their drug of choice will be a time of serious transition. As they begin to re-imagine and create a life for themselves outside of addiction, identifying effective support systems to maintain their recovery is essential. Many people consider incorporating medication assisted treatment (MAT), often using the drug Suboxone, as a part of their recovery maintenance plan, but not everyone entering recovery is aware of the serious risks that accompany consistent use of this drug. Here are three reasons why you should carefully consider the long-term implications of MAT in any plans for addiction recovery.

  1. Opioids are addictive, period. Despite being a drug that’s frequently used to ameliorate the more painful effects of detox, opioid-based medications like Suboxone still carry a substantial risk for abuse when used long-term. Even formulations that are abuse-resistant are not abuse-proof. Sometimes those drugs are sold or traded by addicts for other opioids. Don’t be fooled by advertisements claiming Suboxone can only be used for good; it is a dangerous drug replacement that has the potential to harm if not used in exact accordance with how it is prescribed.
  1. Suboxone is already abused. Opioid medications like Suboxone are often available to addicts on the street as a means of mitigating some of the more painful effects of withdrawal from heroin or other opioids in between scores. Because of this secondary use, many addicts may already have a relationship with the drug that they associate with using. Just because Suboxone is primarily advertised as a recovery support and cravings deterrent doesn’t mean that’s how it is always used. If your loved one is already abusing Suboxone, it might not be the best drug to use as a medication to assist in recovery.
  1. Try abstinence first. Addiction compels the individual to seek out and use drugs over and over in an endless cycle. Recovery should be about breaking free from all substances that demand that a person consume them on a regular basis, whenever possible. Would MAT give your loved one his/her life back, or is it simply transferring from one drug to another? If your loved one genuinely wants a new life, start fresh, free from any kind of addiction. Suboxone and other MAT therapies are more appropriate for those who have shown themselves to be resistant to treatment, not as a first line tool in our addiction treatment arsenal.

Insurance is limited. You have to be very careful about what tools you try to get your loved one clean. It can be tempting to think that simply incorporating regular use of a different kind of substance can fix addiction, but that is simply not how addiction works.

A new life in recovery is about making decisions free from any substances. Your loved one has an opportunity to live drug-free. Take it.

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About Constance Scharff PhD