Editorial claims abstinence programs causing problems

Summary and Analysis

An opinion piece posted on STAT expresses the view that abstinence-based programs are making the opioid crisis worse "by shunning medication-assisted therapy." The piece presents the views of an addict who found success with Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) but also found herself ostracized by some in the drug-free community. 

The piece is an example of an unfortunate tendency for the discussion surrounding MAT to polarize communities and stakeholders who would be better served embracing multiple modalities. Given the magnitude of the problem and the diversity of needs, an approach which encourages choice will make more sense long-term. 

Excerpted from StatNews

The piece, by Elizabeth Brico, a writer based in the Pacific Northwest, opines that abstinence-based programs “… are making the opioid crisis worse by making recovery from opioid addiction harder than it already is. By turning their backs on people like me on medication-assisted therapy to kick opioid addictions, these programs are prolonging addiction and contributing to overdose deaths.”

It concludes by saying “the time has come for Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, and other 12-step programs to update their approach, or step aside. Abstinence-based models are too dangerous to rule the recovery community any longer.”