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Suboxone Vs. Abstinence Recovery

The undocumented and unmeasurable reality of M.A.T compared to abstinence and twelve step recovery.

Suboxone vs. Abstinence based recovery from drug addiction
Image sources: https://highlandscurrent.org/2018/06/15/two-years-of-contraband/ https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/1/2/16181734/12-steps-aa-na-studies

M.A.T: What is it and how does it work?

M.A.T stands for medication assisted treatment and is prescribed for patients suffering from addiction most frequently for opiate dependence but sometimes for alcohol cravings as well. Buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone are examples of common medications used in this type of treatment for addiction.

M.A.T is commonly utilized in the following ways:

What is Twelve Step Recovery?

Twelve Step Recovery is the most common type of abstinence based recovery. The programs are based on behavior modification using twelve steps to accomplish it. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are twelve step programs. The Twelve Steps originated in 1935 with the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous by Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Smith. The programs believe addiction is incurable, and abstinence is required for treatment.

Core components of Twelve Step Programs:

The Truth About Effectiveness of Methods

It is my experience that Replacement Therapy does not work, Medical Detox sometimes works, and Antagonist Treatment can be effective but has major draw backs. I have been in recovery for 9 years and I have watched many people attempt to use Replacement Therapy or a combination and I have meet less than 5 people who did not return to there drug of choice after an extended period of time.

Tyson Carpenter, who has been sober for 3 years and a long term member of the E-Z Duz It Recovery Center in Louisville, KY Says “I’ve been on Methadone, Suboxone® and even Kratom. None of it ever worked for me. At first things would be good I could hold a job and function externally, but I wasn’t ever actually happy and eventually returned to my drug of choice”. Medical detox is sometimes an applicable solution but isn’t always easier and might prolong the inevitable according to Dr. Evan Massey a retired physician who has had struggles with addiction. “On the matter of Medical Detox with M.A.T its a question of how you want the pain of withdrawal. Do you want lots of pain over a short time? Or less pain over a longer time?”

Why have I been told that M.A.T is more successful than the alternatives ?

The problem is biased metrics and difficulty measuring the success of twelve step programs because they are anonymous and data is self reported. According to samhsa.gov the goal of M.A.T is full recovery, however they use the following metrics to define it:

Being alive, employed and not in prison are not enough! The metrics used to define successful recovery set the bar extremely low compared to what can actually be obtained when working a twelve step program. While the claims of twelve step program members may not be able to verified there is a reason programs like A.A have such a large membership. AA.org estimates membership at 1,967,613 in 2021. Something has to be working right? Personally being happy is a huge forgotten metric that is not measurable and twelve step programs make that a top priority.

Conclusion

Not all recovery is created equal. Is M.A.T effective? I guess it depends on what your looking for. If you seek a fulfilled life without the desire to use a substance my experience and many others indicates that you can obtain that in a Twelve Step program and there are many treatment centers that recognize there methods and use them successfully every day.

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