Part 2, Survey: Half of All Americans Think Detox & Rehab Beats Methadone for Treating Opiate Addiction

Part 2, Survey: Half of All Americans Think Detox & Rehab Beats Methadone for Treating Opiate Addiction

If medically assisted treatment is so good, why doesn't everyone do it? As anyone who's tried this approach will tell you, it's a noble goal, it sounds good on paper, but it's another thing altogether trying to make it work. And when methadone is involved, it's just as dangerous and tricky and hard to get clean as getting into detox and rehab right now is. First of all, as we've said before, it's all too common for methadone clinics to provide no counseling, or quickie and ineffective at most. Hospitals and clinics offering Suboxone treatment are more likely to offer some counseling, but the big new idea being heavily pushed these days is for Suboxone to be dispensed in doctors' offices. A few things about Suboxone dispensing at doctors' offices:

  • The number of doctors accredited to do so is a fraction of what's needed.
  • American primary care doctors have no idea how to counsel people suffering from addiction.
  • America's doctors have zero time to do something like counseling anyway.
  • Let's not forget these are the same primary care family doctors who've been writing more opiate prescriptions over the past 10 or 15 years, by a huge margin, than any other doctors in the world.
So who does the counseling? Will it be left up to the addicted people to get themselves over to some counseling center somewhere? And who makes sure that happens? Sounds like methadone counseling all over again - little or none at all. Meanwhile, back in the methadone nightmare, it's basically the bottom line that counts. Offering a cup of liquid methadone is fast, easy and very profitable - and a far cry from knowing how to help someone become drug free. History shows us that countless thousands of people wind up on methadone for years. For them, it's too scary and painful to start dose reduction. More often, they try it (sometimes many times) and can't take it and relapse back to the full dose. Many methadone clinics don't push dose reduction much anyway, according to reports we've read. In fact, when patients develop tolerance and need a higher dose, most clinics just dish out more. It's not popular for anyone to say this, but commercial methadone clinics are in business to sell methadone - to keep and expand their customer base. So staying addicted while getting counseling and then hoping to wean off methadone sometime in the future is the "gold standard of treatment"?

The high-dose methadone trap

Another thing the "gold standard" folks seldom mention concerns the high-dose methadone prison. Developing tolerance and having to take more every few months, year after year, has created thousands of betrayed and abandoned patients. There's a dosage level after which tapering off is a forgotten dream. And detoxing at a clinic from so much methadone isn't going to happen easily either - most won't accept high-dose methadone cases. Of course it's impossible to do it alone, because cold turkey at this point can kill you. Fact is, detoxing from methadone at any dosage can be worse than trying to get off heroin in the first place. So today, after several decades of "gold standard treatment," there are countless methadone patients trapped in liquid methadone handcuffs in methadone prison - chained to the nearest methadone clinic for life. Is there any standard of treatment worth calling "gold"? To get off opiates and achieve a life free from drugs is no picnic no matter what treatment choices are made. And there's no one gold standard, at this time, that we know of. Here at Novus, we believe that "getting your life back, free from drugs" is a golden goal. And any treatment that can bring that about deserves to be called a gold standard of treatment - at least for that person. There are countless people who were formerly addicted all over the country who got their lives back and now are drug free, who followed all sorts of different programs to get there, but most important, they made it without suffering through additional years of addiction to methadone or more heroin to finally get there. Being addicted to methadone for 2 or 3 or 10 years can simply never be called a "gold standard treatment."

So is abstention really the problem?

Of all the reasons why the experts quote such high relapse rates for people suffering from opiate addiction being treated under the abstention modality - detox followed by rehab while abstaining from drugs - is the hit-and-miss quality of rehab programs and, quite frankly, the earlier detox program as well. When it comes to detox, there are new medical protocols that really set someone up for success in rehab. Entering rehab after a difficult and inadequate detox is a contributing factor to failure and relapse - a proven fact. As for rehab, everyone's different and so are rehab approaches. Too often, they just don't work well together. The same can be said for "counseling" during methadone, Suboxone or any other chemically assisted treatment. Just because it's called "counseling" doesn't mean anything for quality or result. Time put into rehab is a very big factor, according to numerous studies. It seems far-fetched for many patients to expect that 30 days in a rehab somewhere can undo a lifetime of addictive behavior. It's a fact that the longer time spent in rehab directly increases recovery rate and reduces the relapses rate. And with enough time, it doesn't seem to matter all that much what kind of rehab it is. The problem isn't abstention from drugs. Failures and relapses are caused by a completely different set of factors - inadequate detox, inadequate rehab quality and inadequate rehab time. It's these factors that give abstention a bad rap, leaving thousands of Americans subjected to months or years more addiction on methadone and other drugs. There are countless thousands of people who have gotten their lives back who never took a drop of methadone.

What about the cost of detox and rehab compared?

Money is often touted as a reason why the methadone-Suboxone approach is more acceptable than detox and rehab. Patients are told they might be able to get a job during treatment. The expense of being out of the loop for 30, 60 or even better, 90 or more days, seems difficult or even impossible for some people. The facts are, when you consider what someone who is addicted is actually spending on their drugs and alcohol, and what the costs are to their families, detox and rehab are actually a genuine financial investment that is repaid many times over, and not least because in the end, it actually saves the person's life. Here at Novus, we're right there with the half of America who want people to get free of drugs now, not next month or next year or maybe never. We feel very strongly about the excellence and effectiveness of our proprietary medical detox protocols. And we're very proud that our advanced treatment protocols also include the ability to effectively treat high-dose methadone patients who are routinely turned away from most other detox centers. If you or anyone you know is on a drug-replacement program, don't hesitate to call Novus Medical Detox Center. We'll answer all your questions about medical detox, and do our best to connect you with a rehab center that works for you.

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