With the recent explosion of opiate addiction grabbing headlines, and the world desperate for answers, at Recovering Champions we get asked the same question every day: “What works?”
We like to restate the question as: “What do you find is working best?” This question is better, because anybody who tries to give a definitive answer is probably overstating their claims. We want to be real with you. We wish there was a definitive answer, but right now there isn’t. If you are willing to buckle down, however, take the long view, and stick to a plan specific to your needs, we believe that opiate addiction can be beat!
We’ve buried the key in the “stick to a specific plan” part. If you had cancer, you’d go to a medical specialist who would evaluate your condition, and prescribe a targeted treatment. As any who have defeated cancer know, treatment can be time-consuming, life interrupting, uncomfortable, and perhaps even painful. Cancer treatment is also full of uncertainty.
Yet, most people with cancer put their faith in the doctor. They usually do exactly as they are told, becuase they want to live. There are no guarantees, but chances are best if you follow the doctor’s orders. Most people don’t pick and choose, as in “I’m going to skip those steps, this is taking too long,” or “I don’t like that medicine so I’m not going to take it.” Those that do might think they can get away with this, but in the end most face predictable and unfortunate consequences.
A successful battle against opiate addiction is a little different in concept. We hammer this point home by asking clients if they are following doctor’s orders. And just as any doctor might do, we periodically take their “vital signs” to see how things are going, and revise their program as necessary. What now follows is a condensed list of the typical doctor’s orders:
Examples of Doctor’s Orders to Beat Opiate Addiction
- Completing and not skipping any levels of care
- Maintaining treatment continuity through transitions from one level of care to the next
- Taking the time needed for treatment to work
- Where indicated, remaining in the treatment area and connected to the established treatment and recovering community
- Adhering to the 12-step fundamentals of meetings, sponsorship, home group membership, and working the steps
- Following an integrated treatment approach of therapies informed by trauma-, co-occurring mental health and other evidenced-based best practices
- Where indicated, the use of carefully-supervised medication-assisted treatment, Methadone, Suboxone or Vivitrol
- Patiently planned and supported transitions utilizing outreach and aftercare to keep clients connected and accountable to their plans
- Professionally and compassionately facilitated family involvement to reestablish connection, communication, and rebuild trust
As you can see, by themselves none of these elements are earthshaking. But, when taken together, these elements work powerfully and effectively. Later we will expand on the rationale for the above, and until then invite you to share your wisdom and questions as we seek to learn and grow together.
contributed by senior clinician and community liaison Toby Lineaweaver, MA, LMHC
you can reach Toby via email here