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Medication-Assisted Treatment and Other Changes in the Addiction Field: A Q&A with Maia Szalavitz, Part III

Posted By Jerry On April 16, 2013 @ 1:28 pm In 12-Step,Addiction,Books about addiction,Dealing with an Addicted Child,Finding Treatment,getting help,Heroin,Medication-Assisted Treatment,Substance Abuse,Treatment,Twelve Step,Uncategorized,Writing About Addiction | 2 Comments

Opioids (heroin and prescription pain relievers) are powerful drugs that act on specific receptors in the brain that are important in regulating pain. While prescription opioids can be highly beneficial if used as prescribed, as a class of drug, they have a high potential for abuse. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimated that 1.9 million people in the U.S. were addicted to prescription opioid pain relievers in 2010 and 359,000 were addicted to heroin.

Medication-assisted treatment for opiate dependence generally refers to the use of the medications buprenorphine, methadone or naltrexone to treat opiate dependence, in combination with counseling and recovery support services.  

In this, Part 3 of a 4-part series of my Q&A with award winning journalist Maia Szalavitz, Ms. Szalavitz shares her views on the dominance and effectiveness of traditional AA/12 Step based rehab programs, as well as the changes she has seen in the addiction field with a special emphasis on medication-assisted treatment for those struggling with opioid dependency.

JERRY OTERO: What’s been the biggest change in the addictions and treatment field since your book, Recovery Options  publication in 2000? What are the implications for teenagers?

MAIA SZALAVITZ: The biggest change is the widespread use of buprenorphine for opioid addiction treatment and the acceptance of the need for maintenance medication in some cases by abstinence-focused providers like Hazelden.  There has also been a decline in harsh and confrontational treatment, but unfortunately, some is still out there.

I wish there had been more changes though:  it’s still hard to get care that doesn’t present the idea that the 12-steps are the best way and that really meets people’s needs.

Teen treatment is unfortunately still very problematic, particularly in programs that sell themselves as “troubled teen” programs, i.e., emotional growth boarding schools, boot camps, therapeutic boarding schools, behavior modification programs and wilderness programs.  None of these have any controlled evidence supporting their effectiveness for addictions or other teen drug problems and yet lots of teens with drug problems are sent to them.  These programs tend to use tough, harsh tactics that are known to be harmful.

JERRY OTERO: What are your thoughts on medicated-assisted treatment (such as methadone, suboxone, vivitrol) for patients with opioid addictions? What are things parents should know about this treatment for their older teens/young adults?

MAIA SZALAVITZ: For opioid addiction, medication-assisted treatment is the safest and best option, the one most likely to preserve life and health.  It’s trickiest to determine when it should be used with young people:  obviously, it’s preferable not to have to be on lifelong maintenance of anything, whether blood pressure medication or buprenorphine.  So, young people should be aiming for abstinence at first, but maintenance should not be ruled out or seen as failure and parents should not pressure kids who are doing well on maintenance to come off, simply because they feel that drug-free is better.

Stay tuned next week for Part lV of our Q&A “How Can We Makes Things Better?”

To learn more about prescription medicine abuse, please visit The Partnership at Drugfree.org’s The Medicine Abuse Project [1].

And look for The Partnership at Drugfree.org’s free Medication-Assisted Treatment e-book coming out next month.

Maia Szalavitz is a health writer at TIME.com [2] and writes about addiction-related issues for The Fix.com [3]. Find her on Twitter at @maiasz [4]. She is co-author of Born for Love: Why Empathy is Essential — and Endangered [5], (Morrow, 2010), The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog and Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook [6]: What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love and Healing (Basic, 2007), and Recovery Options: The Complete Guide: How You and Your Loved Ones Can Understand and Treat Alcohol and Other Drug Problems [7] (John S. Wiley, 2000) and the author of Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids [8] (Riverhead, 2006).

Article printed from INTERVENE: A Community for Parents: http://dev.intervene.drugfree.org

URL to article: http://dev.intervene.drugfree.org/2013/04/medication-assisted-treatment-and-other-changes-in-the-addiction-field-a-qa-with-maia-szalavitz-part-iii/

URLs in this post:

[1] The Medicine Abuse Project: http://www.medicineabuseproject.org

[2] TIME.com: http://healthland.time.com/author/maiasz/

[3] The Fix.com: http://www.thefix.com/content/maia-szalavitz

[4] @maiasz: http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=AlBJM.BONxS3dzldPwWDzPy1qHQA;_ylu=X3oDMTFrb2pndWQ3BG1pdANBcnRpY2xlIEJvZHkEcG9zAzEwBHNlYwNNZWRpYUFydGljbGVCb2R5QXNzZW1ibHk-;_ylg=X3oDMTJqdm9zMW9zBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDNTU4MDQzYmQtNjhmYS0zNWJkLWI1YzItNzg1OTRiZTQxNjE5BHBzdGNhdAMEcHQDc3RvcnlwYWdl;_ylv=0/SIG=11m05ldim/EXP=1364921734/**http%3A/twitter.com/%23%2521/maiasz

[5] Born for Love: Why Empathy is Essential — and Endangered: http://www.amazon.com/Born-Love-Empathy-Essential-Endangered/dp/006165678X

[6] The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog and Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook: http://www.amazon.com/The-Boy-Who-Raised-Psychiatrists/dp/B005YUDOR2

[7] Recovery Options: The Complete Guide: How You and Your Loved Ones Can Understand and Treat Alcohol and Other Drug Problems: http://www.amazon.com/Recovery-Options-The-Complete-Guide/dp/047134575X

[8] Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids: http://helpatanycost.com/

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