Using drugs to treat drug addiction

drugs to treatThere has been much controversy regarding using drugs to treat drug addiction. As always, there’s a common sense  treatment approach and then there are those who prescribe drugs with no treatment plan. This is from Social Work Today:

Specialized medications to treat substance abuse and addiction have also been added to the arsenal of weapons for fighting this “disease.” While not a new concept, the use of medications to treat substance abuse and addiction has potential but is controversial. Ironically, the biggest controversy comes from the people these medications are designed to treat. “Many of us in the 12-step community do not believe that a person is really clean and sober if they have to use drugs to get off of drugs,” says Danny F., a long-standing member of a 12-step program. While AA and Narcotics Anonymous organizations formally support the use of prescription medications necessary to treat mental illness or other medical issues, many believe that the use of any medications, especially mood-altering medications, puts a member’s sobriety in question (Smith, 2007).

Medical treatment decisions are up to the person in recovery and their physician, but it makes a huge difference that the physician understands addiction and recovery. I’ve heard many stirring testimonials from people in recovery who needed medication. They suffered from depression and kept relapsing, or they could never make it past the extended withdrawals from opiates, etc. Treating the whole person is necessary, and a physician trained in addiction medicine understands how to use medication as one tool — medication is never the entire solution. And, usually, the medication is not necessary long-term.

Suboxone is now prescribed for treatment of opiate addiction, and appears to be a great improvement over Methadone. So far, the evidence is positive on Suboxone, if the person taking Suboxone is being treated and/or attending a support group. When a person addicted to drugs gets the idea that a pill alone is the magic answer, they’re more than likely setting themselves up for relapse. And a recovering drug addict should always consider, all throughout treatment and recovery, the goal of being drug-free.