Stigma Against Methadone, Suboxone and Vivitrol In Recovery Communities Needs To Go Up In Smoke

The irony is never lost on me when I am engaged in a conversation with a person in recovery who, between deep puffs of a cigarette or long sips of their sugar-filled cup of coffee, believes that the use of medications such as Methadone, Suboxone or Vivitrol excludes a person from being able to identify as being in recovery. If you’re smoking a pack of cigarettes a day or consuming caffeine like it’s your day job but claiming that a person using prescribed medication as part of their treatment for substance use disorder “isn’t clean”, your stance is problematic at best, hypocritical at worst.

Caffeine and nicotine are both stimulants.   They are both addictive, mind and mood-altering substances. In fact, smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in this country. So to be using these drugs while stigmatizing, ostracizing and alienating individuals who are utilizing prescribed, evidence-based medication as part of their recovery journey is both foolish and harmful.

There are many pathways to recovery and many definitions of what that means for a given individual. While for some, certain medications may have been misused in the past or the use of them is not a strategy we would choose for ourselves, that does not mean we should impose our beliefs on others. And while for some, choosing to use the most harmful drug in the United States is not something we believe excludes us from identifying as “clean” or in recovery, we all ought to allow each and every individual to identify for themselves what recovery means for them.  With drug overdoses being the number one accidental cause of death in this country, the time is now to be more inclusive and welcoming than ever.

4 thoughts on “Stigma Against Methadone, Suboxone and Vivitrol In Recovery Communities Needs To Go Up In Smoke

  1. Julie Hooker, MS LADC March 20, 2016 / 2:46 pm

    Part of the problem with organizations like AA is that you learn to identify yourself by the narrow diagnosis of “addict” or “alcoholic” and it is said that you must do so in order to address denial. This is a dangerous notion and contributes to the stigma. I challenge anyone to claim they are truly abstinent when as you point out nicotine and caffeine are so prevalent. There is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to recovering a life that one chooses for him/herself!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bud Pilcher March 21, 2016 / 3:14 am

      As a member of a twelve step fellowship with over thirty years free of narcotics, I think your comparison of methadone and caffeine is over the top. What I am seeing is pressure from the addiction “industry” for twelve steppers to change their definition of recovery. We don’t consider you to be in recovery if you are using replacement drugs. If that is an answer for you, by all means continue. But don’t come to our meetings and expect that to be accepted. Our abstinence programs work great when followed. I think maybe too well for the pharmaceutical industry, because they can’t make a profit from it.

      Like

      • Dan Gavin March 22, 2016 / 2:56 am

        Altho 12 step programs work for some, studies have show more addicts fail then do recover in any program of recovery. Using maintenance programs as a tool is great, I question anyone’s program that bad mouths another person’s recovery. Obviously said person isn’t working a very good program. And again there are many different ways to work recovery, many many different ways beyond a fellowship. AND I AM A MEMBER AND WORK STEPS REGULARLY. But close mindedness is a huge problems in many of the rooms I’ve been in. Yes IMO you are in recovery if you are prescribed a drug for maintenance, the word is recovery as in recovering if you are not a heron addict etc etc and are in the process of recovering you most Def are IN RECOVERY and God bless you and may your path you chose lead you from the hell of active adfiction.

        Liked by 1 person

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