It’s a debate among sober living communities. Very few, if at all, allow medication assistance treatment, also known as MAT, to sober living residents who are on methadone or Suboxone for their withdrawal and detox process. These two medications are specifically important for opioid addiction, and in fact, not just for “detox”, but for long-term use in order to sustain their sobriety.
One reporter of The Fix magazine highlighted Matthew Perry’s Malibu mansion turned sober living facility as a venue that does not allow the use of these medications with their residents. Apparently, when questioned about it, their response was:
“We would not allow suboxone or methadone since they would ‘pee dirty’ for opiates.
… Anything that makes a UA come up positive would be a problem.”
Matthew Perry, who played Chandler in the television sitcom Friends, was once struggling with an addiction. He later admitted that during the making of the show he was concealing a heavy addiction. Perry was on the show from at 24 to 34 and in his early 30’s, he was in and out of sober living homes, yearning for long term sobriety. Perry eventually found sober living and later transformed his own struggle with addiction into facilitating sobriety for others.
The 43-year-old actor turned his Malibu home into a men’s sober living facility into what’s now called Perry House. It’s a facility that offers a 12-step program, meditation, and other holistic services to help men get sober. Perry is also an advocate in the courts, fighting for nonviolent substance abusers to get rehabilitative sober help instead of sending them off to jail. However, despite his efforts to be a great support to the sober living community, his facility may not be a help to those who are addicted to heroin or other forms of opiates.
Apparently, there are very few sober living homes that will admit people who are currently on suboxone and methadone. According to Perry House administration, it would lead to a dirty urine sample. 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 might also prevent the admittance of recovering addicts who require a daily dose of methadone or Suboxone. 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.
Interestingly, Perry admitted, “Mostly it was drinking, you know, and opiates. I think I was pretty good at hiding it but, you know, eventually people were aware.” Although he too was addicted to a drug that might have required his use of suboxone and methadone, his sober living facility doesn’t allow it for the reasons described above.
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. Although they are hard to find, they’re out there.
It continues to be a problem, among others, in the sober living field – a field that is still refining itself as our understanding of addiction and treatment of addiction continues to grow.
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