Keli McLoyd, a researcher at the Treatment Research Institute, said she likes to keep her personal recovery separate from her policy work.

Much of McLoyd’s work has to do with medication-assisted recovery, so she spent most of her time with the class talking about the pros and cons of the different medications used to treat addictions: methadone, suboxone and naltrexone. Each of the medications have different functions and side effects, but they are all a source of prejudice within the recovery community. Some people in the recovery community don’t believe a person can actually be “in recovery” while taking medications to help treat addiction. However, McLoyd said medication-assisted recovery is a great option for many people with substance use disorders.

“No matter how you feel about treating addictions with meds, they work,” she said. “Period.”

McLoyd made a comparison between a person using medication to treat an addiction and a person using insulin to treat diabetes: a type of assistance people in recovery may use as maintenance or to avoid relapses.

“Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease,” McLoyd said, so it’s important to provide as many resources as possible to help people manage substance use disorders.

McLoyd also introduced the class to several helpful databases to use in our projects.

Overall, McLoyd aims not to stop people from using drugs, but to provide people with the tools to prevent addiction and manage existing substance use disorder. She compared many prevention programs’ stances to abstinence-only sex education.

“It’s like the birth control issue,” she said. “People say abstinence and it just doesn’t work.”

“[Our goal is not] preventing people from doing drugs, but preventing full-blown addictions,” she added.