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To Assist or not to Assist with Medication for Recovery

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) most people cannot do it alone when it comes to recovery from opioid addiction. Medication-assisted treatment is treatment for addiction that includes the use of medication along with counseling and other support. SAMSHA reports that taking medication for opioid addiction is like taking medication to control heart disease or diabetes. Used properly, they state, it helps you manage your addiction so that the benefits of recovery can be maintained. Naltrexone is one of three medications commonly used to treat opioid addiction. The other two are methadone and buprenorphine.

Many treatment providers frown on the use of these replacement medications. They often site the addictive nature of replacement medications as switching from one drug to another. One provider in the field for over 32 years adamantly stated that these replacement drugs do more harm that good. She said clients abuse them and improperly divert them to get money or other drugs. Overall, the long term value of medication-assisted treatment was rarely seen in her experiences. She went on to say she had only seen favorable results with clients who held professional licenses and degrees. And she implied that their motivation for change was losing a professional career and the income, lifestyle associated with practicing a profession.

Not everyone who uses opioids, including heroin, gets addicted. However, it is difficult to stop using opioids after you develop an addictive disorder because the cravings can be so strong and fear of withdrawal is so great in most cases.

Ultimately, the choice of how to reclaim a healthy and productive lifestyle should be up to the client and concerned loved ones. The goal of medication-assisted treatment is to recover from addiction. It should not be viewed as replacing one addictive drug with another. It can provide a safe, controlled level of medication to overcome the use of a problem opioid (SAMSHA).

In sum, if a client has a high level of discipline and motivation on their side cognitive work and revisiting concepts of spirituality can also be productive alternatives to a successful recovery. The hope is that an informed doctor or treatment provider will point the client in the direction more likely for recovery success after evaluation.

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