Opiate Addiction: The Ins and Outs of Medical-Aided Recovery

Woman seeking medical-aided recovery for opiate addiction

Contributor: Roseann Rook, CADC Clinical Addictions Specialist Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center

Opiate addiction is very difficult to break, which is why many outpatient and even inpatient efforts often fail. Medical research indicates that many of those with addiction benefit from some form of medication to achieve recovery.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) strongly supports the use of medication as part of an integrated treatment program. According to NIDA, medication therapy may increase patient retention in addiction treatment programs and decrease the rate of relapse among addicts in recovery.

Medication-assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) utilizes pharmaceuticals that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat opiate use disorder (OUD). These include medications such as buprenorphine, naloxone (sub-Oxone) and methadone.

For the addicted individual, the best chance to achieve a sustainable recovery, MAT should always be done in tandem with comprehensive therapy and 12- step facilitation.

As with all treatment strategies, MAT has upsides and downsides. These include:

Pros of MAT

  • Suppress the physical symptoms of opiate withdrawal and provide a decrease in cravings, thus allowing a person to stay focused on treatment
  • Reduction in illicit drug use which results in less criminal activity and a reduction in infectious disease especially in IV opiate users.
  • Improved social functioning as well as an overall improvement in the quality of life as a result of “feeling normal.”

Cons of MAT

  • Side effects
  • Danger in using when combining with other substances
  • The question of whether individuals receiving MAT are considered to be in recovery, which can hinder or exclude some treatment/support options

Woman in addiction rehab center*The fact that the individual relies on the medication because they feel better and are functioning. As such, this person may not realize the importance of addressing underlying issues and developing coping skills, which is an enormous part of long-term recovery

Whether MAT is a component of a comprehensive recovery plan or not, is a decision that should be made by the individual. What truly matters is that any person who is addicted to opiates needs to get treatment. When they are abused long enough, opiates don’t just devastate a person’s life; they destroy it.

About the Author:

Headshot of Roseann RookAs a Clinical Addictions Specialist, Roseann is responsible for conducting psycho-educational and process groups as well as providing individual counseling for addiction treatment including co-occurring disorders such as Eating Disorders and Mood Disorders at Timberline Knolls. She specializes in Process Addictions with a strong focus on Relationship Addictions.

Roseann was instrumental in the development of Timberline Knolls’ Addiction Program and the implementation of addressing Process Addictions into the curriculum. As a member of Timberline Knolls’ Clinical Development Institute, she has presented locally and at National conferences.

Roseann has worked in the addictions field since 1993, starting at Aunt Martha’s Youth Service as an addiction counselor moved on to counsel MISA clients at Grand Prairie Services followed by working for the YMCA Network for Counseling and Youth Development as an Addictions Counselor and Crisis worker. She returned to Grand Prairie Services for a brief stint to develop and implement an out-patient program before joining Timberline Knolls in 2006.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on December 2, 2017
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on December 2, 2017.
Published on AddictionHope.com

About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions.