The sober living field is still refining itself, including its understanding of how to treat opiate addiction. While there is a growing epidemic of teens and adults around the country who are addicted to opiates, the standard treatment for this addiction type continues to come with questions and concerns. This article will explore the pros and cons of the use of methadone in facilitating sober living for those struggling with opiate addiction.
Opioids are the main activating drug found in painkillers, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, diphenoxylate, morphine, codeine, and methadone. The abuse of prescription painkillers has reached epidemic proportions in America. Close to half of the nation’s 38,329 drug overdose deaths in 2010 involved painkillers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These narcotics now kill more adults than heroin and cocaine combined. Opioids are synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant. It can be injected or inhaled by snorting or sniffing or smoking it.
The treatment for those who are addicted typically undergo clinical, supervised detoxification in order to manage the withdrawal symptoms. Research has shown that the best combination of treatment include methadone, which is itself an opioid, to manage the withdrawal symptoms, as well as therapy to address the behavioral and psychological issues that contributed to the addiction in the first place.
Certainly, the methadone treatment has had many successes in facilitating sober living for recovery addicts of opiates. For instance, Bechara Choucair, MD, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, commented that “methadone maintenance treatment is an effective treatment for heroin and prescription narcotic addiction —slashing injection rates, lethal overdose, and crime rates, as well as reducing HIV transmission, time spent unemployed, and time spent incarcerated.”
At the same time, there are others in the sober living field who question the use of an opioid to medically treat an opiate addiction. Although the point is to help an addict slowly wean off the drug in order to finally achieve sober living, that addict is still getting high. Call it what you want, he or she is still getting a fix. For this reason, some experts suggest the use of Suboxone, a drug that treats opiate addiction by blocking the opiate receptors in the brain. With the use of Suboxone, an addict can try to use heroin or painkillers, but he or she won’t feel a high, and for that reason there won’t ever there won’t be any incentive to use, and there won’t ever be a relapse – at least not to opiates.
Interestingly, there are sober living homes that won’t admit addicts who are currently on Suboxone and methadone treatment. They are concerned it will lead to dirty urine samples in their guests. However, experts say that there are ways to get around this by using drug tests that require more than just peeing in a cup. They tend to be more expensive, and for that reason, some sober living homes may not choose to use these testing methods. Furthermore, national operating standards for sober living homes prevent the admittance of recovering addicts who require a daily dose of Suboxone methadone treatment. For example, these medications would need to be kept in a lockbox because if found by other residents, they can pose great danger and perhaps lead to legal trouble for the sober living facility. However, there are sober living facilities that will accept recovering addicts who require the use of medication assistance treatment in order to heal their addiction to heroin or opiates. At times they can be hard to find, but they’re out there.
Certainly, as the treatment for drug addiction continues to evolve, perhaps more options will become available for those who are addicted to opiates, options that have no consequences, that are safe, and that facilitate sobriety.
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