Overnight, the use of medications, such as Vivitrol and buprenorphine, have easily become the favored option in treating opioid addiction. As it is no secret to anyone where we currently stand in regards to the drug abuse problem within our country, it is easily understandable as to why so many look to these medications as a solution. Nevertheless, what if we told you that both past and current studies show that these medications have little impact on relapse rates and continued drug use. Would you believe us? Well, you should.
The Treatment Research Institute of Philadelphia was tasked with evaluating 600 drug court participants in 13 Ohio counties. More specifically, their goal was to evaluate the effectiveness of medication-assisted treatment programs (MATs) utilized throughout the judicial system. While their assessment did not reveal favorable results, the use of medication is still a preferred method among many drug court officials. You may wonder why that is, so today, we would like to discuss this matter more in depth.
What The Treatment Research Institute Found
The intent behind medications such as Vivitrol or Suboxone is to aid an individual in their recovery process. Nevertheless, the only conclusion made by this current research was that some participants stayed in drug court programs longer. In fact, the differences among those that were prescribed medication and those that chose the path of abstinence were not much different. The research team examined participants who were involved in a drug court program for at least a six month period, with some receiving Vivitrol and counseling, and others who chose not to take the medication, but still participated in addictions counseling. The differences in success among these two groups were not far apart. 75% of those who were prescribed Vivitrol were either currently active in a drug court program or had graduated. 73% of the individuals who chose abstinence were either currently active in the program or had graduated.
Now, some of you may say, “Well, the percentage of those using medications is still 75%, so it’s successful,” but it is important to remember the reason why these medications were introduced in the first place. So many now advocate for medication-assisted treatment, simply because they believe it is more effective then abstinence-based treatment. Clearly, based on these results, that is not the case. With that said, is it really necessary to invest $33 million into these programs over a three year period, something Ohio officials have done? The only savings found was related to non-fatal overdoses and a decreased use in emergency services, saving individuals $4,384 on average in health care costs.
Officials Still Want To Expand M.A.T. Programs
While the results of the Treatment Research Institute of Philadelphia’s evaluation were insignificant, many Ohio officials are still interested in expanding the use of Vivitrol, and for some, the use of Methadone and Suboxone. One main goal of the research was to compare the effectiveness between the various medications, but the team had a difficult time doing so, because 89% of participants were prescribed Vivitrol. The monthly injection is a favored form of MAT among Ohio court systems, for a variety of reasons. One reason being that Suboxone and Methadone are partial agonists, which carry the potential for abuse and dependence, and the other being that Vivitrol has been strongly marketed by its makers, Alkermes, to Ohio judges and drug court programs.
What’s more, the evaluation indicated that many Ohio counties lack enough access to detoxification and residential treatment services, as well as options for sober living and extended care. And yet, that is not where the concern lies. Jamie Carmichael, acting Deputy Director of Public Affairs for Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services (OMAS) said in a recent news article, “The next step is to educate the criminal justice system on all forms of MAT.” That education will be provided through 10 symposiums held in 2018 across Ohio, which will be paid for through the 21st Century Cures Act. With the lack of detox and residential services, wouldn’t it be wise to invest more time and funding into that crucial area of addiction treatment?
We understand. The bottom line is that people are dying every day from opioid addiction, so it makes sense as to why providers and lawmakers are considering any means possible to help. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the facts simply because we are afraid. Yes, medication-assisted treatment helps in certain scenarios and in specific cases. However, to invest more funding into one form of treatment, and ignore another when it has proven to work, is the complete opposite of doing everything possible to make a change.
Contact Clearbrook Today
Are you or someone you love currently struggling with drug addiction or alcoholism? If so, it important to know that you have more than one option when it comes to treatment. If you are unsure of what is available to you, please take the time to educate yourself on the various forms of addiction treatment.
For 45 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been providing solutions to the chemically dependent person that have proven to work. If you are interested in coming to treatment, or if you just have questions, please contact our Admissions Specialists today. We are available 24 hours a day to assist you in any way we can.