NA, SAMHSA and KTHEN – Official Stance on Medicine Assisted Treatments (MAT)

Medicine Assisted Treatment (MAT) for heroin and drug addiction has never been so controversial.  While many well respected organizations and communities can see and have experienced the benefits of Methadone, Suboxone, Naltrexone, etc. others feel that willpower and a spiritual approach is all that’s needed to treat and conquer addiction. So what are the official positions of some leading organizations and communities on MATs?

Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide™ (MAT) Official Position on MAT

addiction replacementKill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide™ (KTHEN)  is a proponent of a multi-modal approach to treating heroin and drug addiction.  KTHEN officially supports and condones the use of MAT in conjunction with other proven modalities.  MAT includes the use of Methadone, Suboxone, Naltrexone, etc.  Other successful treatment programs include but are not limited to support groups, individual and group therapy, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), the 12 Step Program, IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program), Addiction Replacement Therapy and other inpatient/outpatient behavioral and support methods.

Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide prescreens and recommends only those treatment facilities and services that have an outstanding reputation for helping heroin, opiate and drug users conquer their addiction and possess excellent reviews.  View our Recommended Treatment and Recovery Centers to get help now.

Narcotics Anonymous (NA) Stance on Medicine Assisted Treatments (MAT)

Narcotics AnonymousMany leaders and members of Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and the 12 Step Program seem to discourage and advise those on Medicine Assisted Treatment (MATs) to terminate all use of Methadone, Suboxone and Naltrexone as soon as possible.  But what is their official stance on the subject?

NA supports and encourage anyone with a desire to get clean to attend their meetings.  Moreover, Narcotics Anonymous (NA) as a whole makes it clear in their literature that it is not their place to pass judgment nor attempt to interfere with someone’s medical treatment in one way or another. Their official stance is relatively neutral but as they should, they advocate unity in recovery first. Below are a few quotes from their literature, provided by our Assistant Publisher Emma Hossy.

“As outlined in In Times of Illness, the choice to take prescribed medication is a personal decision between a member, his or her sponsor, physician and a higher power.  It is a decision many members struggle through.  It is not an issue for groups to enforce.  This pamphlet is not intended to speak to members about the personal decision of whether or not to take medication, nor is it trying to convince members to have different opinions about the use of medication…”

“…The information here is intended for NA groups as they consider how to address this issue.  As a part of this discussion, drug replacement is addressed as a separate section because NA’s philosophy of complete abstinence differentiates a drug used as a replacement from prescribed medication for other mental or physical conditions. We hope the following approaches will help groups in their efforts to preserve unity, welcome members, and create an atmosphere of recovery…”

“…Some members have seen friends who’ve taken medication relapse, and some have seen friends who’ve taken medication stabilize and stay clean…”

“…Some NA members are confused or even intolerant of those on drug replacement due to what they see as a contradiction between drug replacement and the NA principle of complete abstinence.  Some of us are fearful when those on drug replacement want to share or speak on behalf of NA.  It may be helpful for all of us to remember that many addicts on drug replacement eventually do get clean, stay clean and find a way of life they thought was unobtainable before coming to NA…”

“..The use of medication is an issue that many members have strong personal feelings about, but a group is not there to enforce, endorse, or oppose members person’s opinions.  Any member – those who take medication and those that feel taking medication is inappropriate – has a responsibility to not represent their personal feelings and opinions as the opinions of Narcotics Anonymous as a whole…”

samhsa logoSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Promotes MAT

Similar to Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide™, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration or SAMHSA is a proponent of medicine assisted treatment and recommends it along with counseling modalities to treat heroin and drug related addiction disorders.

Important Note About the History of MATs

When community based programs such as AA and NA began, there was no regulated MAT approved or available for widespread use in the US.  Moreover, in the 1930s, the medical community had not yet established that addiction is a disease.  Decades later, much evidence exists proving addiction is a disease thanks to hospitals and research based foundations all over the country

The fact that addiction has been established by reputable medical communities around the world as a disease unveils the hypocrisy of those who still strongly oppose the use of medicine assisted treatments for addicts and feel strongly that willpower and spirituality is the only way to treat addiction.

Why Medicine Assisted Treatment Is Successful

Not everyone who quits heroin requires the use of medicine assisted treatment.  But statistically, those who use medication like Methadone, Suboxone or Naltrexone possess a better chance of staying clean than those who don’t.

MAT is not trading one addiction for another.  MAT is approved by the FDA to treat the disease of addiction.  Addiction is a medical disease largely fueled by reduced dopamine levels and altered brain chemistry.  This “feeling” creates a sense of emergency which makes everything else but obtaining heroin or their drug of choice virtually unimportant and non-existent.  This becomes even more urgent when withdrawal symptoms begin.  So while making the choice to stop using heroin is possible without MAT, it’s much easier due to its withdrawal and craving reduction properties.

Combining MAT with Other Successful Treatment Approaches

Medical professionals, counselors and patient advocates who support and/or administer MATs recognize the importance of other counseling based modalities which includes support groups, individual and group therapy, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) and other inpatient/outpatient behavioral and support methods.  As MATs are becoming more widespread, it’s our hope that more and more will recognize its potential benefits.  But what works for some, doesn’t always work for others.

Important Message About Judgment

Maybe in an ideal world, medicine isn’t needed. But addiction is a disease and sometimes medical treatment is required.  But to judge and ridicule others for taking medication for a disease is largely inappropriate and downright cruel.

Written and Published by,

William – Publisher and Founder of Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide™

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