Wow, does time ever fly. The year 2016 is gone, and 2017 is here! It's been quite some time since I've posted, and I've had several of you reach out to make sure things are alright; so I wanted to take a quick moment to update everyone on how things have been going. TL;DR: Things are good! I can't complain, anyways.
Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT) is the most widely known and well researched treatment for opioid dependency. However many of those considering this as a treatment option for opiate addiction, and even some patients currently on methadone, have hesitations towards certain aspects of treatment or are unaware of how to maximize the effectiveness of treatment.
I have personally found tremendous success through Methadone. A MMT patient for just under 2 years now, I have gone from a homeless IV drug user, to a functional person, once again full of life and potential. It has truly given me the opportunity to reclaim my life, and has the ability to do the same for many addicts in need of treatment; but if you are not taking full advantage of all methadone has to offer, the power of addiction can win.
Here are 5 simple ways to help maximize success in Methadone Maintenance Treatment!
If you've ever had the experience of wasting precious time you'll never get back watching Dr. Drew Pinsky's 'Celebrity Rehab', you might be vaguely familiar with Bob Forrest. A musician and recovering addict himself, Forest had many appearances on 'Celebrity Rehab', in which he was a counsellor charged with assisting other addicts in their recovery during their stay with Dr. Drew. Nowadays, he has taken the leap into opening his own addiction treatment facility, called "Acadia Malibu". On the facility's website, Forrest runs a blog that features a post entitled "Legal Heroin - Chasing The Wagon", in which his feelings about Harm Reduction are made very clear; calling it nothing but a 'con'.
What does sobriety mean to you? Do you consider yourself to be sober? Depending on the definition of sobriety used, you could be considered either clean as a whistle, or a dirty junkie. How is this even possible?
What it means to be sober can be a highly debatable topic. People hold conflicting views on what sobriety really means, and are often extremely passionate about it. The strictest definition is the believe that abstinence from any and all altering substances is required to hold that golden title of sobriety. In all honesty though, is that even a realistic expectation? Absolutely no altering substances. None. Think about that for a second. So many different things could be tossed into that extremely broad definition. By that standard, only a very small group of people would be able to consider the Consider themselves sober. Drink Coffee? Take ANY medications? Smoke? Drink? Well according to this strict stance, you're all just as dirty as I am. You filthy Coffee junkies!
Stepping back from the extreme, Methadone patients are a really great example that generates conflicting views about sobriety. Some strongly believe that a methadone patient is by no means sober. Methadone, like heroin or Oxycontin, is in fact an opiate. Therefore, many hold the view that taking Methadone (another opiate) in place of the drug of abuse is simply swapping one addiction for the other. Therefore a methadone patient is far from being in a sober state, regardless if they've stopped using needles, and snorting or abusing their drug of choice, they are still on an opiate - therefore, dirty! No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Well move over, outdated, strict and unrealistic definitions of sobriety! A brand spanking new viewpoint is making its way onto the scene. It's one of the best I have seen, and comes courtesy of Dr. Adi Jaffe and Dr. Marc Kern from Addiction Alternatives, who have an innovative, realistic take on what it means to be sober. Let's take a look at some of their views on the topic.
"According to the dictionary, 'abstinence is the avoidance of consumption' whereas 'sobriety is the condition of control'. The traditional 12-step based treatment programs for addiction define these two terms I accurately - using them interchangeably and synonymously. Because of this error, most people unintentionally get confused, which often results in them falling easy prey to a type of 'psychological recovery gridlock'"
So what do Dr. Jaffe and Dr. Kern believe is the best way to view sobriety?
"Sobriety is really a psychological or emotional state of self-management - not really having to do with abstinence. Sobriety is available to drinkers and non-drinkers alike, and is seen when people relate to their world in a rational, calm, and mature manner".
I absolutely love that. The traits if self-management and avoiding excess. But they don't stop there, ensuring to highlight how detrimental dated definitions of sobriety can really be.
"The idea that sobriety requires abstinence also substantially limits the potential recovery options made available to an individual seeking help, as well as implying to the therapist that abstinence is always the most appropriate treatment goal. It coerced people into believing that addiction recovery is an either/or situation - with only total abstinence as an acceptable outcome. But that limited mindset is not the truth - and certainly not helpful to everyone".
Speaking from personal experience, the above statement very true. When I initially sought help, I entered a rehab centre which gave me no other options than full detox and abstinence of all drugs. Methadone wasn't seen as a option for someone seeking to be sober. Guess what happened? I failed, and miserably at that. Barely two days after check-in, I was checking out - and checking right back into a life of addiction, one that spiralled even further out of control. Prior to entering rehab, I was snorting pills. Not long after leaving, I had become an IV drug user. The complete and utter failure of my attempt at sobriety just made me a million times feel worse. I felt absolutely pathetic, and totally out of options. I truly did not believe I would ever be able to stop using. I just could not manage to kick the habit - whether I went cold turkey, or I tried naively to ween myself off; it always ended in failure. Each time I failed, the possibility of sobriety slipped even further away, to a point where I truly believed it was unreachable. On trips to get dope, I can remember seeing people out for a jog, out biking or playing sports, and thinking to myself that I am never again going to be able to do those things - I wasn't not at all ignorant to the fact that I was a complete and utter slave to the needle, and that's just the way it was going to be from now on. I couldn't get myself out of bed in the morning without dope, let alone do anything other than find money for drugs, get drugs, and then do said drugs. That was my life, and it was a hell I thought I was to be stuck in forever. I truly believed I was just too far gone. Then I found Methadone, and it saved my life.
Of course, this new view of sobriety is a hotly debated one, as not everyone agrees that this is the best way to go. Approaches such as methadone maintenance, treatment of alcoholism through daily regulated dispensing of booze to addicts, and various other harm reduction approaches are often viewed as controversial, but when it comes down to straight facts, they work. Why are we as a society so stuck in this outdated and stigmatizing view of addiction and it's treatment options? When highly effective options are available to help give addicts their lives back, we should in no way be stigmatizing their use, nor holding such negative views and unrealistic expectations, as it is truly detrimental.
Whatever you believe that meaning of sobriety to be, just worry about holding yourself to that standard, not everyone else around you. Such an unattainable definition of only damages and repels those who desperately need treatment from the necessary seeking help, as it feels like a hopelessly impossible task. Effective treatment options are available that can change the lives of addicts in drastic ways. Let's stop guilting and shaming them away from accessing these life saving treatment options and give them hope that a sober, functional life is within reach.
To read more about Dr. Adi Jaffe and Dr. Marc Kern's innovative take on sobriety, as well as information and resources, visit http://www.addictionalternatives.com
Image via http://www.newvaluestreams.com
By K. Lanktree
- Freelance Writer -
- Blog Mistress -
- Former IV Drug User -
- Methadone Patient -
- Lover of all things Harm Reduction -
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