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[ Opinion ]

Stigmatizing “Real” Recovery

I continue to find not only family and friends but patients themselves who stigmatize Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT). As a community recovery addicts need to support each other. No longer should we argue one form of treatment is better than another. Society in general does this for us enough. I have almost 17 consecutive years opiate free while on MMT. It literally saved my life after numerous in house treatment facilities and abstinence only modalities. 

I am not claiming it works for everyone, since no form known does. Yet at present in evidence based treatment MMT has the best statistics going for achieving long term recovery. Yet the real issue comes not from failure to stop using but the stigma that accompanies being on medical assisted treatment. Far to many patients get pushed and nagged to get off MMT when in fact for many of us this can be a huge mistake. We do not demand people stop taking medications that allow us to live healthy safe lives for any other illness but addiction. 

Clearly a large part of this stems from the amount of government regulation connected to MMT. No other medicine is as highly regulated. Another reason is family and friends who typically have no real educated understanding of addiction and methadone therapy yet demand in many cases their loved ones will never be “normal” or “free” unless they stop taking it. This is very dangerous. I will not waste your time by offering statistics or percentages since they seem to have no effect. 

I will say, that my 17 years free from opiates and other mood altering drugs has helped me live in as legit a recovery as any abstinence only format. I will likely stay on MMT for life. And with long term compliant following of the rules I only have to go for my medication 2 times a month. That allows me the same freedom as anyone on Doctor prescribed medications. yet if I were forced to deal with withdrawals it is a sure bet I would relapse and no one is ever promised to survive that and find their way back into treatment.

So I ask everyone with a loved one currently on MMT if it is working and they have their lives in order is it really important to demand they get off if they do not clearly want too?