The South Florida Attitude Surrounding MAT Treatment
The lives of people recovering from addiction are plagued with stigma, whether they are living clean and sober or using. Those who are not educated about addiction or mental health issues often perpetuate this stigma. Many people struggling or living with substance abuse disorders look to one another for hope and guidance. The outside world is cruel but knowing that there is a loving group of individuals recovering from the same disease is comforting. In early recovery, sometimes that group of other recovering addicts and alcoholics is all and individual has. With that being said it’s hard to imagine that other recovering alcoholics and addicts, who have already been judged so harshly by society, would judge each other just the same.
Abstinence-based treatment has been the standard for decades. The idea is that an addicted person enters into a detox center, removes the toxins from their body and then enters into “rehab”. In treatment/rehab, the addict or alcoholic will go through a series of groups and one on one-therapy sessions until completion- typically thirty days later. The next stage would be to reintegrate into society through some sort of aftercare program or support group. In this stage, other recovering addicts hold the addict accountable for their sobriety as well as behavior. This system has worked for a long time and that’s why its practice is heavily prevalent when trying to combat addiction.
If this method is attempted multiple times with no success at recovery there are other options. The challenge that comes with these other options is that there is an extreme stigma within a stigmatized community about what “real recovery” should be and look like. Medication can be used to assist chronic relapsing addicted individuals to grasp and maintain a standard of living that is successful.
Though the attitude and dialogue regarding medications such as subuext and suboxone and their use in drug treatment is slowly changing in South Florida, there is still an extreme stigma attached to this practice. Patients who are prescribed buprenorphone medication are often looked at as “second class citizens”. The ones who are judging this group of people the hardest are the ones whose love and support are paramount to helping these individuals attain complete sobriety. Many recovering addicts not on medications stigmatize the medicated individuals, which ultimately disqualifies them from gaining full social acceptance. Most people yearn for acceptance from someone somewhere and when a person who also lied, cheated and stole wont accept someone… who will?
All of them are lucky to be alive yet, one perceive themselves as better than the other.
Addicted individuals who are prescribed medications like suboxone or subutex, which are addictive medications, are considered by many to not be sober. They are excluded from certain activities and are made to feel “less than”. Many patients on medication assisted treatment express a lack of support from fellow recovering addicts. While there are many medications that are addictive, maintenance patience are single out the most.
There are many medications, which are addictive. The list of “drugs” that can be addictive or deadly is a long one. Buprenorphine, the active ingredient in suboxone and subutex is addictive. Wellbutrin, a common antidepressant is addictive. Antipsychotics like Seroquel…. are addictive. If a person takes these medications everyday, as prescribed, and stops suddenly, their mind and body will go through withdrawal. 13% of Americans are on an antidepressant; clinical depression affects around 16 million people. This doesn’t mean that a clinically depressed person should not take their medication though. Most people would encourage any loved one to take their anti depressant everyday if they saw that the medication improved quality of life. Most people would not risk shaming someone who was clinically depressed for being on anti depressants. The potential suicide of a person is not worth it. Slowly people are starting to feel similarly to those that take medication to treat cases of extreme opioid addiction. Though the medication can be addictive if the patient takes it as prescribed, their quality of living skyrockets. Beyond improving quality of life medication assisted treatment cuts mortality rate in half, studies show. In reaction to the lack of support recovering addicts using buprenorphone have experienced there are now support groups just for them popping up around the country. These support groups are important in allowing education to be shared and communities to form.
As the deadliest drug overdose crisis stretches its wrath across America, its time for education and empathy. More people, especially those in the recovery community, need to ditch the ignorance, fear and the trading “one drug for another drug” mentality. A stigma of this magnitude should not be so prevalent in a community that inherently faces harsh criticism and judgment. Stick together, love one another, and live and let live.
If you or someone you know needs help for addiction to drugs or alcohol or would like to learn more about MAT treatment. Call us today: (888) 708-2602
Written by: Allie Severino