Here’s the truth: You don’t need to be an addict to know the difference between going through life numb and living life fully awake and present. Even though a very small percent of the population can benefit from maintenance drugs, for an addict who is ready to recover and achieve the clarity that comes with being clean, it’s quite possible that “Maintenance Medication” is actually doing a disservice and robbing them of true sobriety.
Maintenance Drugs Are Still Drugs
The bottom line is that Suboxone, Methodone and other maintenance medications are still drugs and effectively anti-productive to a healthy path in sobriety. That being said, I feel strongly that there is a time and place for appropriate medication-assisted treatment.
There’s nothing wrong with a short tapering and use of medications while an addict is detoxing and trying to get their sobriety legs back. However, maintenance and tapers are two different things. Short tapers can be beneficial and used on some clients during detox, as a way to minimize withdrawals symptoms and complications. Maintenance is used for someone who is unable to come off of those meds completely, and this would be for a very small portion of people in treatment.
Getting people off of opiates with a maintenance option does not fix the problem. It elongates and can be a Band-Aid to a much deeper issue. There is no such thing as recreational use of Opiates and these maintenance drugs can prevent working a program and ever feeling anything like the true freedom that comes with complete sobriety. It has also been shown that while some of these drugs can ease the pain of withdrawal, patients without significant sobriety time are more at risk for an overdose should they relapse.
In my previous article I discussed The Opioid Initiative, which was launched in 2015, and created to improve prescribing practices, expand medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and increase the use of Naloxone. This form of putting a Band-Aid on a much bigger problem is a form of insanity- doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. The irony is this anti-opiate drug initiative ended up putting more money into producing and supplying more drugs.
Maintaining Their Money With Maintenance
Let’s face it, there’s no money in cures. I don’t want to set off any alarmist bells or be labeled a “conspiracy theorist” but hey, facts are facts.
“Big Pharma” is a phrase used to refer collectively to the pharmaceutical industry. It’s been shown that the medical establishment in general, and pharmaceutical companies in particular, may not exactly be operating for the public good.
Legal drugs (pharmaceuticals) and legal drug dealers (doctors) have got a trillion dollar industry that’s lining a lot of powerful pockets. What a great racket they’ve got going on: Get people addicted to drugs, then give them a different drug to help them to get off of the primary drugs. This is how they are sustaining the cycle so that thousands of people are stuck in a loop- and maintaining their money, with maintenance. Prescribing these maintenance and emergency-only drugs to new and younger drug users, like Millennials, is in my opinion, a crime. These FDA-approved drugs were created to alleviate pain and provide comfort for those who are suffering and dying from terminally ill diseases.
The Solution: Let Them Have True Sobriety
Here’s an idea that may end the tragic cycle of addiction and maintenance: why not invest in state-funded programming, centers, and facilities where addicts are given the opportunity to experience lasting sobriety?
There are programs and treatment centers across the country doing incredible work taking individuals from the spiral of addiction into a life of recovery. My own personal experiences with this compels me to be involved with a few of these programs. I hope that by raising awareness, we can encourage Congress to allocate more funds towards the facilities doing the important work of effective long-term recovery.
As I have said, there are benefits to using these drugs to help people taper off and detox, but I do not agree with long-term maintenance.
Getting recovering addicts off of maintenance drugs will allow them to achieve true sobriety- the kind that allows all of us to breathe a free breath, see the true beauty and serenity that is part of a life that isn’t ruled by drugs.
At the end of the day, I believe that the most important goal is to bring, and make available, the highest level of recovery care and treatment to as many people as possible. That’s just my truth.