So doctors are often accused – and rightly so – for speaking Medicaleeze – in the same way a lawyer might use Legaleeze. The term “Medication Assisted Recovery” is something addiction specialists throw around a lot, but what does it mean? In a nutshell, it means the use of medication to assist an individual in his/her recovery, both to improve the chances of staying abstinent, but also to improve mood and allow him/her to enjoy life once again. In my view, an addict who stops using but is still miserable is not an example of successful treatment. My goal is to give someone back his/her life, so he/she can feel once again and be happy, while addressing his/her addiction.
Although many treatment programs and government agencies have spent years trying to develop a “formula” for treating various addictions, we at DetoxatHomeNY know better than that. To be successful treatment must be completely individualized. If a patient has chronic back pain one cannot simply take away his/her pain medication and expect things to go well. In the same way, if a patient has an underlying psychiatric disorder (and studies have shown that somewhere between 25% and 50% of addicts have concurrent psychiatric conditions) it needs to be treated at the same time we are addressing an addiction or the patient will likely relapse.
In the end, being a good Addiction Medicine physician involves a lot of listening and constant adjustment in medications and medication dosages to make the patient comfortable. Recovery is a lifestyle and medicines can provide a bridge to abstinence that will support sobriety and lead a patient back to a life of fulfillment and enjoyment. In my next segment I will discuss the neurochemical basis and rationale for medication assisted recovery.