Abstinence for Treatment of Substance Use Disorders
Everyone’s journey to recovery is different. For some, quitting a drug “cold turkey” works for them. Abstaining, or giving up, the drug that led to a substance use disorder is the key to lifelong success in staying clean. Part behavioral therapy, part social support, 12-step programs have been used in helping millions of people recover from addiction, from alcoholism to opioid addiction, tobacco use and even gambling and sex addiction.
According to NIDA, “Twelve-step facilitation therapy is an active engagement strategy designed to increase the likelihood of a substance abuser becoming affiliated with and actively involved in 12-step self-help groups, thereby promoting abstinence.”
Abstinence-Assisted Treatment Vs. Medication-Assisted Treatment
There are no one-size-fits-all treatment options for substance use disorders. While abstinence-assisted programs may work for some people, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) may work well for another individual. Unlike abstinence-assisted treatment, MAT can work well for some opioid users, for example, because it slowly weans them off the drug by reducing the cravings and severe withdrawal symptoms that can be associated with abruptly stopping the opioid drug.
However, there remains a controversy when comparing abstinence and 12-step recovery programs versus MAT. Some professionals view MAT as replacing one substance for another. But the bottom line is that every person is unique which is why access to the different therapies for substance dependency is important.