With the rise in Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) acceptance across the country, the staff at AACC are seeing more and more clients seeking help coming off of prescribed opiates, such as Suboxone and Methadone, that they were put on by physicians utilizing this model. Recovery and abstinence based treatment are not advocated as strongly, nor is it driven by pharmaceutical companies with a drug to sell. It is easy to see why addicts get confused when seeking help with their heroin or prescription pill problem and are having one drug swapped out for another.
We believe that ANY addict can recover, and MAT has its place with some addicts. However the overwhelming number of providers popping up advertising “treatment”, then seeing their patient for a few minutes each month, writing a prescription, and providing no follow-up or therapy modality is astounding. Just take one look at the detox client withdrawing from Methadone or Suboxone (two of the most difficult opiates to come off of) and you will understand.
We are seeing clients seek help for coming off the medications so similar to the drug they were originally seeking help for. We have updated our detox regimens to meet these clients unique needs and provide them the support and education around addiction as a disease they need in order to make full recoveries. Harm reduction has its appeals, but do we approach disease processes such as cancer and diabetes with harm reduction? No, we try to treat the treatable and reduce harm in the untreatable. Suboxone and Methadone were formally used for clients who had been to rehab 4,5,6+ times and failed and somewhere along the line it has become a standard of care, even for the most treatment-naive addict.
We counsel our clients, individually and with groups. We use cognitive behavioral techniques and motivational counseling. We provide education around the disease model. We provide Aftercare and introduce clients to the twelve steps and AA/NA support groups. We involve the families of the addicted and have family counseling sessions and groups. We set up relapse prevention plans and address all co-occuring medical and mental health disorders. And importantly. we graduate our clients completely free of all illicit substances and they go on to be successful – even confident, knowing a drug screen could be passed at any time without explanation of being prescribed narcotics from a MAT provider.
We are not against MAT at AACC, but we do believe strongly in abstinence-based treatment and at least giving the addicted a chance to live a drug free life. In its defintion of recovery the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines recovery as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential”. We have seen abstinence work with our clients. We stand by SAMHSA’s definition of recovery and are willing to at least give them the chance to try.