There is some controversy within the recovery community as the Commonwealth rolls out new resources to combat the opiate epidemic. An article in Saturday’s Salem News highlighted concerns over the use of medication focused treatment for addictions in lieu of other types of treatment such as group or self help programming.
Specifically the use of Methadone and Suboxone was cited as risky for the population in recovery. Both drugs are very effective in the treatment of addictions but both are addictive themselves and are most effective when used as part of a more comprehensive program. A comprehensive program includes medications as well as consistent participation in a self help program such as AA or NA and ongoing therapy in either a group or individual setting.
Addicts struggling with recovery often seek the “magic bullet”: that one pill that will solve all of their problems. Recovery from addiction is much more complicated than that and very challenging. There is no one medicine, rehabilitation program or therapeutic approach that has proven to be 100% successful.
There are some methadone programs that are very closely managed and well supervised. There are others that are not and relapsing addicts may actually find them to be a source of supply or connection for continued use. Dues to their addictive properties, both Methadone and Suboxone have high street value and may be obtained outside of a prescriber’s office to support a habit.
A well managed methadone program places staff in the parking lot to monitor client interactions, has a strict no interaction rule, immediate consequences for breaking this rule and comprehensive random drug screening. This prevents drug deals from occurring in the parking lot or hallways of the program and monitors and manages any relapses. Individual and group programming is also a part of these programs and involvement with a self-help program is strongly encouraged as well. Addicts serious about their recovery know where these program are and stick with them.
Some people are able to wean themselves off Methadone completely if done correctly and manage a drug free recovery. Others, after repeated attempts have decided that a methadone maintenance program is what is needed. This involves taking as low a dose of methadone as possible to prevent withdrawal symptoms or relapse into non-prescribed drug use. The addict maintains this dose consistently to support normal functioning, much the same as someone who needs insulin to manage diabetes.