Recovery houses pushed to accept MAT

Summary and Analysis…

The story covers the change-of-heart of an operator of recovery houses who was originally opposed to serving those in recovery who were on Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) drugs.

The operator now runs houses that accept people on MAT drugs and the story describes the general trend towards accommodating the population of patients using MAT. Although the same scenario is likely playing out across the country — and MAT is certainly an option within the drug treatment community — some important nuance is overlooked in the article.

The implication is that recovery houses that do not accept MAT patients are backwards, that the modern or proper trend is towards widespread acceptance of MAT and that recovery houses generally should be moving in that direction. But, as pointed out in the article there are concerns about mixing MAT patients with patients who are working towards a drug-free outcome. MAT drugs are routinely abused — methadone and Suboxone are both drugs-of-abuse on their own.

Also, patients and their families should be afforded the opportunity to make choices about their preferred outcome. Some patients will choose the MAT approach, even if it means remaining on an opioid for years or decades. But others would like to achieve a drug-free life which, for many, is within reach.

The point is simply that in the rush to MAT, we must not marginalize those patients who decide to work towards what has to be viewed as an admirable outcome — a healthy, drug-free life. While for some it will be important to have recovery house options that accommodate the MAT approach, it is equally if not more important to support recovery houses that help patients achieve that truly drug-free life.

Excerpted from WHYY

Cristina Rivell has been struggling with an opioid addiction since she was a teenager — going in and out of rehab for five years.  The most recent time, her doctor prescribed Suboxone, a low-dose opioid that curbs cravings and prevents symptoms of withdrawal.

“When you’re by yourself, you kind of feel lonely,” she said.  “It’s easy to get in your head, and it’s easy to say to yourself, ‘Well, one day, I’m just not gonna take it, and I’m gonna get high for one day.”

She figured if she combined her daily dose of Suboxone with a supportive living environment, she’d have a better chance. She wanted to move into a recovery house, where groups of people who are battling addiction eat together, go to meetings together, and support each other as they go to therapy.

With her time in rehab running out, Rivell started calling around to see who had room for her. But that proved a challenge.

“I would say, like, ‘I’m Cristina, I’m on Suboxone, I’m just looking for an open bed,’ and they’re like, ‘We don’t take people on Suboxone,’ and they’d just hang up on me.”