One Life, Many Pathways Out of Addiction

The BDN is sponsoring the One Life Event today (5/4/16) at the Cross Center. Political and community leaders alike will solicit not only public input but also grass roots action as we seek to reduce stigma and increase access to education, prevention, and treatment in combating addiction in our communities.

It is therefore all the more shocking and disappointing to see the BDN Editorial Board uncharacteristically espouse, “Treatment without medication won’t help Maine overcome its addiction crisis” (BDN 5/2/16)

Let’s set the record straight on this much: There are many pathways to recovery and all of them should be honored as intrinsically valuable.

Bangor Daily’s Editorial Board displayed uncharacteristic prejudice when it failed to make any distinction whatsoever as to “…what Maine needs to address its addiction epidemic” as opposed to what policy makers should support (which is almost exclusively a matter of what Maine Care and Maine tax payers should pay for).

I want to shout this from the proverbial mountaintops:

ADDICTION DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE!

Regardless of our prejudices, it impacts people from every socio economic class. This is not simply a policy issue nor is it simply a matter of what those dependent on Maine Care for treatment should receive. It’s something that affects every single one of us. It is only a matter of how directly.

Language and conceptualizations matter.

The editorial muddies the waters by alternately making reference to different forms of addiction, availability of treatments, and espousing only medication assisted treatment:

“There’s little debate in the scientific community about what kind of care people with addictions should be getting — care backed up by decades of scientific evidence: treatment that couples medication such as methadone or Suboxone with behavioral therapy.”

Ok, that statement displays a staggering degree of misunderstanding and espouse a faulty view. Worse, the statement is objectively untrue. Medications such as Methadone and Suboxone would never be considered for the treatment of a myriad of addictions by any medical professional. Example: no one is ever going to be treated for addiction to alcohol with Methadone.

When we consider the solutions to addiction, espousing the value of a singular approach is worse than short sighted – it’s divisive, alienating, and potentially dangerous.

Let’s get this much clear:

– Maine’s Heroin/opiate epidemic is not new. Anyone knowledgeable about addiction personally or professionally knows this is not a recent development.
– Heroin Epidemics are well documented for many decades in the U.S.
– Maine has a HUGE problem with addiction to a plethora of substances – not just opiates.
– Sole reliance on “evidence based” science rules out most anything anecdotal, spiritual, religious, and a lot of community based and grass roots efforts.

I’m not dismissing the value of evidence based practices and research. I am saying that if your church helps you get and stay sober, then it ought to be respected as having enormous value. I am also saying that if helping your neighbors supports your recovery, then no scientist will be showing up to study you doing it, yet it has enormous value. Anything that helps you change your life for the better and hurts no one has value and our conversations need to be inclusive in order to be meaningfully supportive

 

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.