Freddie Laboy, a certified recovery specialist at Prevention Point, spoke to our class about the work he does at Prevention Point and some of the stigma and barriers that persons new to recovery often encounter.

Among the barriers is a stigma against people using medications like suboxone and methadone to assist in recovery. Laboy has not personally participated in a MAT program, but he believes that it works. He even started a 12 step meeting for people on medication that felt uncomfortable at AA or NA meetings. AA and NA tend to discourage the use of medication, preferring abstinence-based recovery. The stigma is definitely present in traditional 12 step meetings, and it was a view I adopted without giving it much critical thought. After seeing an overwhelming amount of evidence supporting MAT, I changed my mind. The problem is that the stigma is generally unquestioned, and people are afraid of changing the way the 12 step programs operate. Why? I don’t know. History and tradition? Maybe.

And it isn’t just 12 step programs. Many inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers and recovery houses also prohibit the use of medication to assist treatment, which is an unnecessary limitation for new people in recovery. The process of changing opinions on this seems to be a slow process, but I think the trend is moving towards more people and programs accepting medication-assisted treatment.