Abstinence Based VS. Medicine Assisted Treatment – Northeast Addictions Treatment Center

Medicine Assisted Treatment VS. Abstinent Based TreatmentOne of the hottest topics in the online recovery community is medicine assisted treatment which includes SuboxoneMethadone and Naltrexone (including Vivitrol and ReVia) and whether or not those taking these legitimately prescribed medications are clean, sober and truly “abstinent”.  Some, including many members of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous who feel that those on medicine assisted treatment are still using drugs.  Others feel that they are in a state in between using and sober while others feel that they are “completely abstinent” based on the original intent of the rule/guideline provided by Alcoholics Anonymous approximately 80 years ago.  To see our view, visit “Methadone and Suboxone: The Brutal Truth About Medicine Assisted Treatment“.

Regardless of your view, there are pros and cons to medicine assisted treatment and treatment that doesn’t include medicine, sometimes referred to as “abstinent based treatment”.

Recently, William, Publisher and Founder of Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide prescreened and approved Northeast Addictions Treatment Center of Quincy, Massachusetts for recommendation on this community.   Northeast Addictions Treatment Center is relatively new, but after interviewing and speaking to their professional, experienced and passionate staff, William felt confident that they could truly help men and women suffering from drug and heroin addiction.  As part of their ongoing efforts to fight against the heroin epidemic, they’ve created a blog and post frequently.

The Northeast Addictions Treatment Center blog below compares medicine assisted treatment to “abstinent based treatment” (those who don’t use medicine) and explains the pros and cons to both.  What they don’t do however, is judge or demonize either approach as they recognize the merit and benefit to both.

For those in need of addiction treatment in Massachusetts and beyond, we strongly encourage you to consult with Northeast Addiction Treatment Center.  Click here for a free online consult or call Mike De Amicis at 1-617-990-6620.

Abstinent Based and Medicine Assisted Treatment

There is no “one size fits all” method to recovering from substance use disorder; learn about the various types of treatment available before making a commitment.

Abstinence-Based Treatment

Abstinence-based TreatmentAbstinence-based treatment is pretty straightforward.  It’s exactly what it sounds like and calls for complete abstinence from any potentially addictive and/or mind-altering substances.

Abstinence-based treatment centers make up “more than 90 percent of drug and alcohol treatment programs in the United States” and most of them utilize the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as their core principles. When participating in abstinence-based treatment programs, there’s no option for addicts to wean off opiates using prescription drugs such as methadone or buprenorphine.

Because addicts don’t have the option to use those drugs, both of which have the potential to be addictive, they’re not going to be put at risk by stepping down from using hard drugs to using prescription drugs. In addition to that, many abstinence-based treatment centers immerse their clients in the 12 Steps and bring them to AA meetings regularly. This gives those individuals the opportunity to network and create a support system made up of other people actively working toward maintaining their sobriety.

Medication-Assisted Treatment


Opposite abstinence-based treatment, medication-assisted treatment uses medication in order “to treat substance use disorders and prevent opioid overdose.”  Medication-assisted treatment involves prescribing addicts medications, such as methadone, buprenorphine (Suboxone), and naltrexone, and weaning them off them over time.

Typically, medication-assisted treatment is used for opioid addiction and the prescribed medication “operates to normalize brain chemistry, block the euphoric effects of alcohol and opioids, relieve physiological cravings, and normalize body functions without the negative effects of the abused drug.”  The medications used in medication-assisted treatment can be taken “for months, years, several years, or even a lifetime.”

While medication-assisted treatment has been proven to be effective, it should always be accompanied by both regular counseling and behavioral therapy.

Choosing What’s Right For You

When it comes to choosing between abstinence-based treatment and medication-assisted treatment, there is no right or wrong answer.  There are vocal proponents (and opponents) on both sides of the fence but, ultimately, there is no one “right” way to recover – and, besides, there are multiple definitions for “recovery,” though that topic deserves a blog post of its own.

Anyway, both types of treatment have their pros and cons.  Abstinence-based treatment is sometimes referred to as being “all or nothing” while medication-assisted treatment can sometimes lead to methadone and/or buprenorphine addictions.   On the other hand, many addicts achieve full sobriety as a result of seeking abstinence-based treatment while completing the 12 Steps and plenty of others have greatly reduced their chances of overdosing and dying by using methadone or buprenorphine as directed by a doctor.

In the end, both treatments have unique strengths and weaknesses but neither is “better” than the other.

Northeast Addictions Treatment Center As An Abstinence-Based Treatment Center

Northeast Addictions Treatment Center LogoAs an abstinence-based treatment center, we, at Northeast Addictions Treatment Center, personally, prefer abstinence-based treatment to medication-assisted treatment.  However, we neither deny the effectiveness of medication-assisted treatment nor demonize its use in any way, shape, or form.

As the majority of our staff consists of addicts in long-term recovery – they’ve completed the 12 Steps and attained sobriety – we know that abstinence-based treatment works, especially when accompanied by the 12 Steps.

At Northeast Addictions Treatment Center, we immerse all of our clients in the 12 Steps of AA and bring them to meetings on a regular basis. Within their first two weeks here, all clients choose their sponsors and their Step work begins almost immediately.

Though we understand, and accept, that there are multiple routes to recovery, we have chosen to guide others using the abstinence-based approach.

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