Medically Assisted Treatment: A Practical, but Short Term Solution

Suffering symptoms of withdrawal is one of the greatest obstacles in encouraging a loved one to seek recovery. Withdrawal is essentially the brain’s way of communicating life or death when it comes to an addictive substance. In the neurological process of addiction, the brain becomes chemically dependent upon the presence and consumption of a certain substance, like heroin or alcohol. A period of absence causes the brain to panic, as it has become programmed to recognize that substance as a means for survival. Interestingly, the brain both produces symptoms of withdrawal, yet is terrified of them. That terror creates a vulnerability in the event known as cravings. Endlessly cyclical, cravings, withdrawal, and use continues. SAMHSA reports that 23 million people in the United States are in need of help for treating addiction and other mental health issues. Less than fifteen percent of those people receive it.

Medication assisted treatment has always been a taboo in the recovery industry. Medications like suboxone, and subutex are buprenorphine drugs. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which essentially means that there are still traces of opioid in the medications. Some medical professionals see using these medications as a necessary evil to prevent further loss of life. Treatment using medical assistance has shown significant success in long term abstinence from drug use and/or relapse.

More conservative recovery professionals recognize that drug replacement therapy might be helpful, but does not constitute “real” recovery. These individuals see abstinence in puritanical terms: there mustn’t be any trace of mind-altering substance. In other words, an opioid addiction cannot be treated with another opioid. Indeed, patients can become dependent upon buprenorphine medications, experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when coming off of them.

A growing population of professionals around the world are beginning to view medically assisted detox and treatment as a short term tool in the recovery process. Less intoxicating than other medications like methadone, suboxone and subutex can be used in a tapering off process. However, medically assisted treatment should not be a standalone treatment. Using medications as part of the recovery process needs to be combined with psychological treatment as well. Creating an individualized, comprehensive program of treatment is critical in working toward long term recovery. Cognitively, until symptoms of withdrawal have passed, it is difficult for patients to grasp the emotional or spiritual parts of recovery.

Medically Assisted Detox can mean the difference between the start of recovery or the continuation of an addiction. Recovery starts here, with Refuge Recovery. From detox to sober living we offer exceptional service and healing to our patients. Call us today for more information 323-207-0276.

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