Addiction Treatment Report – Stigma Lives On

addiction treatment

The fight to provide access to substance use disorder treatment centers continues across the country. The need to expand such access has been driven in large part by the American opioid epidemic. Without addiction treatment, the chances of long-term recovery are significantly diminished. Treatment centers provide a safe environment, closed from the realms of influences that can trigger a relapse. In addiction treatment settings, clients have several resources that people trying to recover on their own would otherwise be without, such as doctors, nurses, and counselors.

That being said, it is important to remember that even with access to treatment, there are never any guarantees in recovery. Perhaps a testament to the complex nature of treating addiction. Even with all the odds of success seemingly stacked in one’s favor, many do not find recovery on the first attempt.

The reasons, while varied on a per case basis, are often linked to similar causes. Arguably, one the most consistent reasons that people who check into recovery centers leave against medical advice (AMA), is that they are simply not ready to be honest with themselves or with others. They are unable to follow the direction of those in recovery who came before them. The old recovery saying, “The program works, if you work it,” could not be any closer to the truth.

Increasing the chance of success for people checking into treatment centers is of the utmost importance. Little good will come from providing greater access to treatment, if those who check-in to such facilities are unable to see it through to a successful end, by following a daily program of spiritual maintenance and immersing oneself into a recovery community. What’s more, in order for addicts and/or alcoholics to take advantage of treatment centers, health professionals need to do everything in their power to direct them to a center. This may be something which has been lacking, according to a new report.

If you have been following the opioid crisis, you are likely aware of the fact that New England has been affected especially hard. One such state, Massachusetts, commissioned a panel of addiction treatment advocates and family members of patients treated at state-licensed treatment centers, to observe addiction treatment services across the state, The Boston Globe reports. The findings of the commission, chaired by state Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, would be used for recommending possible improvements.

There were two main takeaways from the report. Perhaps the most noticeable finding was that only 49-percent of adult patients who were treated at state-licensed residential substance use disorder centers, saw the treatment through to the end, according to the article. The second major finding was related to the stigma that still exists regarding those afflicted by addiction.

“Stigma in emergency rooms manifests in various forms: not providing substance use disorder treatment, derogatory comments toward people with [addictions, and] not making an effort to screen insurance and connect to treatment,” the panel wrote.

The special commission believes that the best way to address the problem is more training for every emergency department employee, the article reports. They also call for a the creation of addiction “trauma teams” to help encourage overdose victims to enter treatment. While we have come a long way with the stigma of addiction, clearly we still have a long way to go.

“There’s nothing worse than asking for help and being pushed aside,” said Joanne Peterson, a member of the commission and founder and executive of a nonprofit addiction support organization. “Is a heart patient treated that way? Is the mother of somebody who’s just been in an accident treated that way? No — but if it’s somebody on medication or actively using and they’re trying to find a place to get help, it’s very, very different. Stigma is very much alive and it’s a huge barrier.”

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