On a daily basis, people – many of them young – are lost to the disease of addiction. This breaks my heart, and is the reason why I am so grateful for any and all treatment options that are recommended by the leaders in the field. The more options available, the better the chances are that each individual will find what works best for them. This is so important because lives depend on finding the right treatment for each person. One size does not fit all.
Unfortunately, addictions medications, such as Methadone, are highly stigmatized even though their use in treatment for some patients is supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and other reputable organizations. I find the negative attitudes about these life-saving drugs to be very disheartening, especially as people continue to die at our feet because they can’t find recovery through complete abstinence.
What I find strange is that when Methadone doesn’t work, we blame the medication, but when the 12-step programs or stays at residential treatment centres don’t work, we blame the individual. We say things like “it works if you work it” or “he didn’t want it bad enough”. Well, here is something to consider: the same could be said for addictions medications! They work if you follow the programs the way they are intended to be followed.
Because of the stigma attached to both their disease and treatment, many people who have had success with addictions medications do not talk about it. They move on with their lives and keep it to themselves. Unfortunately, this means that we only hear about the people who didn’t have success so the stigma continues. Today, I thought I would share a success story so that people can make informed decisions on whether or not medications are right for them.
This story is from Eliza Player who credits Methadone with saving her life. She says:
“Methadone was a stepping stone that got me off the needle and off the streets. I did not completely stop using heroin when I first started treatment, and it was actually nearly 2 years before I ever got a single take home!! My urine analyses were positive for everything in the beginning. And, at first, I did not really want recovery, but I knew something had to change, and that I could not go through the constant battle of dope sickness versus the high. Methadone kept me from being sick and insane with that sickness on a daily basis and, slowly, as I began to not have the extremes, things did start to improve a little. It was baby steps. Then, I was not ready to completely abandon the lifestyle. Had I tried, it would have most likely ended in relapse.
It took me a while to figure the whole thing out, as I slowly added one more piece to my recovery....but now, over a decade later...I am off Methadone and drug free for more than 8 years. And, although it took me years of being an awful Methadone patient who still used and abused Methadone if I could, it finally clicked. But...even as a bad Methadone patient, I was still far better than when using. And I took little seeds of recovery with me along the way, and when I finally planted those seeds....they began to flourish.
Methadone is not for everyone, but it is a wonderful, successful tool that saved my life!”
I found Eliza’s story inspiring so I asked for permission to share a little bit of it with you. During our conversation, I found out that she is the author of the book, Heroin, Hurricane Katrina, and the Howling Within: An Addiction Memoir, which chronicles her own personal journey with addiction. If you are interested in learning more about it, just click on the title, which will take you to more information.
If you are struggling with addiction, please do not give up hope. There is help out there. Try everything you can until you find what works best for you. It can take several attempts before you find the right formula for success, but don’t give up before the miracle happens. Your life is worth fighting for.
If you and your doctor think that addictions medications are right for you, don’t make the mistake of relying solely on the medication. You have to do the recovery work as well if you want to have the best chance at success. There is a better life waiting for you on the other side of your addiction, but you are the only one who has the power to seize it! Now is the time!