Medication Supported Recovery (MSR) hold the key to restoring functioning and improving quality of life in recovery?
Let’s face it. By the time most people with a substance use disorder decide to seek help for their addiction their lives may lie in tatters. Addiction has the power to worm its way into every facet of life, eroding it to the point that it becomes a barely recognizable facsimile of what it once was. A once promising career may have evaporated, a marriage may have crumbled, or legal troubles may have mounted. In essence, addiction is a highly destructive force that requires all hands on deck when the goal is to overcome it.
As the addiction recovery industry continues to shift toward a more integrative approach, the role of medications, such as buprenorphine and naltrexone, as an important tool in supporting recovery, has taken center stage. MSR can be viewed through the lens of a recovery asset, something that aids in sustaining recovery while helping to avoid recurrence of substance use. By seeing MSR as aiding the long-term process of recovery, it becomes a key variable in influencing the overall treatment outcome.
What is Medication Supported Recovery (MSR)?
MSR involves the use of medications for aiding addiction recovery. These drugs can help reduce cravings and minimize opioid effects, and, when prescribed in tandem with other aftercare measures such as 12-step recovery meetings and outpatient therapy, help support long-term recovery. Working as either an opioid agonist or opioid antagonist, the drugs bind to the brain’s opioid receptors to block or significantly reduce drug cravings. The net effect is that these drugs ultimately act as a deterrent to recurrence by diminishing the desire for the substance of abuse, thereby sustaining recovery.
Because the ultimate goal for anyone seeking help for a substance use disorder is wrapped around the idea of abstinence, it may seem counterintuitive to consider something like MSR as a recovery support tool. The goal of medication, however, is to aid in the process of recovery. MSR assists this effort by controlling the cravings that so often send someone right back into drug or alcohol use, allowing them the time they need to establish a new lifestyle in recovery.
How MSR Impacts Recovery Outcomes
Successful recovery rests on many factors. Success relies on a strong commitment to obtaining and maintaining a sober lifestyle, having a strong support system at home, ongoing psychosocial outpatient interventions, and active participation in a recovery community, such as A.A. or N.A. However, without the inclusion of MSR, the powerful impact of drug or alcohol cravings may completely obliterate these continuing care efforts.
Consider these 3 ways that MSR benefits recovery:
- Keeps individuals engaged. Medication helps those in early recovery to remain engaged in ongoing continuing care activities that help them to refrain from recurrent drug use.
- Helps avoid reocurrence. Relapse rates are disheartening, shining a light on the struggle that recovering addicts wrestle with in recovery. MSR can dramatically reduce relapse rates by eliminating cravings and providing a diluted opioid effect that helps keep the individual on track in recovery.
- Reduces overdose deaths. Overdose death rates that occur immediately following a period of abstinence demonstrate how MSR can be a protective measure in early recovery. MSR can reduce the chances of a return to substance misuse and help the individual maintain recovery.
Medication interventions such as MSR should be considered an important aspect of the comprehensive recovering planning for the best chance of achieving a sustained long-term recovery from alcohol or opioid use disorder.