David McCartney at Wired in to recovery blogs about differences in the addiction treatment doctors receive and the treatment the rest of us get:
Doctors addicted to drugs tend to get access to higher quality treatment aimed at abstinence as a first line option, unlike their patients where aspirations are much lower. This treatment tends to be of significant intensity and duration and then there is follow up and monitoring.
Last year, I completed a study looking at what doctors in recovery felt were critical factors in their own recovery journeys. Most cited residential treatment and mutual aid as being important. Few people coming to treatment services get referred to these options.
I always wonder when I read features like this, how many more service users would find their way to enduring recovery if they received the same sort of treatment that addicted doctors do.
Peter Sheath takes it a step further and asks two questions:
My first question is, why is this so?
Opiate substitute prescribing is the main evidence based treatment for opiate dependency. Recognised internationally as being very effective in reducing the harm that drugs cause and enabling people to move away from chaotic use to stabilisation and responsible citizenship.
My second question is, are there any health care professionals out there still practising, maintained on a script?
I think that this particular issue, for me, has raised some very serious concerns. If the whole world is recognising opiate substitute prescribing as being the most effective treatment for opiate dependency, then why does this, apparently, change for health care professionals? Smacks a little of animal farm to me? “All addicts are equal, but some addicts are more equal than others.”
Peter puts his finger on 2 important matters.
First, with all of the finger wagging about MMT as the treatment approach with the strongest evidence-base, why do the most culturally empowered opiate addicts with the greatest access to the evidence base reject this evidence base with respect to their own care and the care of their peers? What does this say about the evidence and its designation as an evidence-based practice? That this evidence doesn’t offer a complete picture?
Second, what does it say that health professionals get one kind of treatment and patients get another? What drives this? Is it stigma? Is this a class issue?