Recovery Helpdesk

Posted on March 27, 2011. Filed under: 12 Step Recovery Program, addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, Parent of an Addict | Tags: , , , , , |

My last post was a request from Tom, at Recovery Helpdesk, to recruit participants for his Recovery Moms Survey. I have found Tom’s blog, Recovery Helpdesk, to be a great resource for information about opiate addiction and recovery. (Opiates include heroin and pain killers like OxyContin.) As the mother of a heroin addict (who is now, thankfully, in recovery), I searched frantically to find accurate information about heroin addiction and how/where to get help.  Recovery Helpdesk was one of the places I ‘landed’, and I visit this site often.  Tom is a professional drug counselor, and his postings are always very informative, passionate, and sometimes, provocative. There seems to be a lot of controversy and debate surrounding the use of medication-assisted treatment programs for opiate addicts.  Many 12 Step Recovery Programs don’t approve of their use – and insist that addicts are merely substituting one drug for another, and are not in ‘true’ recovery.  Since Tom is an advocate for the use of suboxone and methadone as possible treatment options for opiate addiction, I wondered about how he came to feel so strongly.  Was he in recovery himself and using suboxone/methadone?  I asked him these questions, and here was his response: (with Tom’s permission)

Peggy,

Thanks for posting about the survey!  I am a professional drug counselor, and I supervise a specialized program (which I started over 10 years ago) for people who are opiate dependent at a large mental health and drug treatment non-profit.  I’m not personally in recovery.  I do have what I experience as a “calling” to work with people who are opiate dependent.  I also have a public health perspective in my work, and previously worked on public health initiatives both for non-profits and the government.  I think this is another reason I have a different perspective in my view of addiction.  I see addiction and recovery in health terms (separate from the debate over the “disease mode” of addiction, it’s clear that addiction and recovery affect personal and public health).

The funny thing about the medication-assisted treatment issue is that I don’t see myself as an “advocate” of these treatments.  I see myself as an advocate for people who are opiate dependent and their families, but not of any particular treatment.

In my own work with clients, my focus is on helping clients recognize their full range of recovery supports/treatment options and helping them figure out when and how the various supports work together to create a solid recovery plan.

I had the experience of working in a state with no methadone and pre-Suboxone.  Then the town I work in became the site for one of the Suboxone clinical trials.  And eventually, we also got a methadone clinic, and Suboxone was FDA approved.  So I kind of got to see the contrast between before and after medication-assisted treatment became available as part of the menu of options.  It was a big difference.  So I very much recognize the value of these treatments.  That’s one reason I think I’m perceived as an “advocate” for methadone and Suboxone (because I am very clear that they are valuable options).

The other reason is because I talk about these options a lot.  But to me this is in reaction to the huge amount of negativity about these options coming from some treatment providers, self-help groups and even some people living with opiate dependence.  I feel like I have to provide a lot of info to counter the stigma/misinformation just to get people to consider the option.

In my own work, we educate people about all of the options, help them understand the pros and cons of each and when each is more useful and less useful, help people identify and remove barriers including psychological barriers related to stigma and barriers related to holding on to myths or misinformation.  This is something I think is lacking for a lot of people –they don’t have someone knowledgeable to explore all options with.  Instead, they encounter a series of treatment providers each focused on the treatment they happen to provide.

Hope this helps clarify.  I really should do a post on this because I think a lot of people probably have the same perceptions/questions.

Tom

I guess I need to add my own disclaimer here, that I don’t necessarily support or endorse the use of suboxone and methadone as preferred treatment protocols – but that they are options in a wide range of treatment plans and can be used when indicated and recommended by licensed professionals.

I encourage you to visit Tom’s site and explore all the information that he has gathered there, to better help all of us affected by the disease of addiction. And, with the intent of providing a balance of information, here’s another perspective on the use of suboxone as a ‘maintenance’ drug for recovery, from Dr. Steven Scanlan, in an interview on one of my favorite recovery blogs, Guinevere Gets Sober. Steven Scanlan, M.D. is board-certified in psychiatry and addiction medicine. In his practice, Palm Beach Outpatient Detox (PBOD), on the Florida coast, he has detoxed more than a thousand patients off many drugs, including alcohol, benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, etc.), and sleep aids. But his specialty is opiate detox.  Dr. Scanlan is a recovering drug addict, himself.  Read about why he thinks suboxone is an amazing detox tool, but a monster maintenance drug.

I hope you can find some useful and helpful information at Recovery Helpdesk, as well as other recovery sites I’ve listed to the right.


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One Response to “Recovery Helpdesk”

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Thanks for this Peggy. Check out Mr. Sponsorpants blog postings on March 25 and 28, if you haven’t yet. Very good ones.


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