Which Prevents Opioid Addiction Relapse Better: Faith Or More Meds?
Does treating opioid addiction with medication save lives? Or does it trade one addiction for another? According to the Associated Press, Health Secretary Tom Price’s recent comments on the issue waver between two strongly held views. Medication-assisted treatment, known as MAT, is backed by doctors. Yet it still has skeptics, especially among supporters of 12-step programs like Narcotics Anonymous, because it involves opioid-based medications. Price appeared to side with that camp when he said during a recent visit to Charleston, West Virginia: “If we just simply substitute buprenorphine or methadone or some other opioid-type medication for the opioid addiction, then we haven’t moved the dial much.”
But in an opinion piece published last week in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, he twice mentioned his agency’s support for medication-assisted treatment. A 2014 review of 31 studies found methadone and buprenorphine keep people in treatment and off illicit drugs. Dr. Mark Willenbring is a former director of treatment research at the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. He said that not informing patients about the effectiveness of treating addiction with medication is like a doctor not telling a cancer patient about chemotherapy. He stated, “Scientifically, this is a settled matter.”
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