Vaping: Should You Be Worried?

Vaping Claims Sixth Life

A sixth person has died from a vaping-related lung disease. Since August, there have been over 450 reports of lung illness and six deaths in California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Oregon and Kansas. Health officials said it wasn’t clear what type of vaping products the patient was using; however all have had high levels of vitamin E acetate, which is common in cannabis-containing vapor products. At least one vapor product containing this chemical has been linked to each person who fell ill and submitted a product for testing in the state.

The federal investigation into the link between vaping and severe lung illnesses is ongoing and has not identified a cause. There are also separate investigations being conducted in separate states.

While an investigation into the lung illness outbreak is ongoing, people should consider not using e-cigarette products and people who do should monitor themselves for symptoms, the CDC said.

After the death of 6 people, vaping has become quite the controversy in the news, however smoking cigarettes causes 140,000 deaths annually.

Cigarettes Claim 480,000 Lives (A Year)

While it is alarming to hear that people are dying due to vaping, we need to look at a few key facts: vitamin E acetate and cannabis oil are not in all vaping products, many people are buying “bunk” or “fake” e-cigarette/vape cartridges online to save money, and cigarette smoking kills 480,000 people a year.

It is easy for us, as a society, to focus on something bad, without asking questions. How much and how long did they vape, did they smoke and vape, did they smoke prior to vaping, did they buy fake cartridges of the internet, did they use cannabis products- the list can go on and on. E-cigarette companies have been around since the early 2000’s, and there have been six deaths- still with unknown causes.

Vaping and Substance Use Disorder

44.3% of all cigarettes are consumed by individuals who live with mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders. One could surmise that many people with mental health and substance use disorders also use or have switched to using vapor products.

When we enter recovery, many of us struggle with deciding to quit smoking, and turn to using vapor products to assist in curbing cravings. Quitting smoking while simultaneously abstaining from alcohol and drug use, can often feel impossible and overwhelming. If you are using vapor products to help curb your cigarette cravings, make sure to ask your local vape shop what is in their liquid.

If you knowingly are using cannabis oil products in you vape and are concerned with vaping-related lung disease, help is available. Amatus Recovery Centers owns and operates 11 treatment facilities across the country that offer a full continuum of care in addiction treatment. Whether you are in search of medical detox from drugs or alcohol to long-term group therapy and aftercare, Amatus Recovery Centers will help you. To find out which level of care is the right one for you, call to speak to one of our admissions specialist today at 833-216-3079.

 Amatus Recovery Centers, a division of Amatus Health, offers treatment for drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders in facilities across the country.  To learn more visit amatusrecoverycenters.com.

Should Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder be More Personalized?

One of the defining characteristics of alcohol use disorder (AUD) is having an often-insatiable urge to consume alcohol despite the negative consequences being intoxicated causes. Persistent cravings to drink are one of the single largest barriers standing between active drinking and recovery from AUD.  

Acamprostate, sold commercially as Campral in pharmaceutical markets outside of the U.S., is a medication said to reduce, and in certain cases eliminate, cravings to drink. This effect occurs for about 10 percent of patients.  

Doctors from the Hazelden Betty Ford Clinic and Mayo Clinic recently began a study to identify “biomarkers” to predict which patients with AUD would receive the benefits of the acamprostate. Doctors would then be able to prescribe the medication to patients who have the best chances of having a positive response.  

Keeping AUD in Perspective

Even with the dramatic surges in opiate addiction and subsequent deaths during the opioid epidemic, there are still more people in the U.S. with alcohol addictions than there are those with opiate addictions. With an estimated 8.1 million Americans with alcohol use disorder, even a ten percent success rate could help thousands recover.  

“Ten percent is a big number when you look at all the people in this country who have AUD,” said Marvin Seppala M.D., Hazelden Betty Ford’s chief medical officer in a recent interview with Minnesota news site MinnPost. “We’re aiming to identify exactly who can be helped by this medication. Once we find that out, the doors will open for so many more people.” 

Treatment Options

Medication assisted treatment is a touchy subject in certain sects of the recovery world, especially with prevalence of 12-step, abstinence-based recovery in alcohol and drug treatment facilities. But creating increasingly personalized approaches to treating substance use disorder is becoming common practice.  

If you have trouble controlling your drinking and experience intense cravings during times you are abstinent, there is help. At Amatus Recovery Centers across the country, we offer a full continuum of drug and alcohol treatment, from medical assisted detox to long-term group therapy aftercare. 

The easiest way to recover from alcohol use disorder is to seek help. Call an admissions specialist today at 833-216-3079 to learn about our levels of care and determine which one is right for you. 

Amatus Recovery Centers, a division of Amatus Health, offers treatment for drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders in facilities across the country. To learn more visit amatusrecoverycenters.com 

 

Mac Miller’s Drug Dealer Arrested

One Year after his overdose, Mac Miller's loved ones may finally see justice

Eds: Story includes vulgarity

About a year after the untimely death of famous rapper, Mac Miller, the police have finally arrested and charged Cameron James Pettit for allegedly distributing counterfeit oxycodone pills to Miller days before his overdose. The rapper died early on September 7th, 2018 due to a mixture of fentanyl, cocaine and alcohol. In a recent statement, U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said that, “Fentanyl disguised as a genuine pharmaceutical is a killer…drugs laced with cheap and potent fentanyl are increasingly common, and we owe it to the victims and their families to aggressively target the drug dealers that cause these overdose deaths.”

Pettit made his first federal court appearance earlier this month in downtown Los Angeles. He was ordered detained without bail pending trial and was given an October 11 arraignment date. If he is convicted of the drug trafficking charge alleged in the complaint, Pettit will face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. It is unknown if police will be adding charges for the role he played in the death of Mac Miller.

Millers father recently put out a statement about the arrest of Pettit, stating, “So they finally caught the motherf-cker that sold him the drugs that killed him…all it takes is a stone-a little tiny stone of fentanyl and cocaine-and you’re dead…the one thing I would say to you is: don’t take the risk, it’s just not worth it.”

Malcom Miller, better known as Mac Miller, passed away in September of 2018 after ingesting counterfeit oxycodone pills.

While it is important for law enforcement to take steps toward ending the trafficking of dangerous narcotics, like fentanyl, the fact that Mac Millers drug dealer is being brought to justice can feel like a slight towards families who have lost a loved one to drug overdose with no justice. Whether you are in recovery or not, addiction has most likely touched your life in some way. Lately the way it is touching people’s lives is through accidental overdose death. It could be at the hand of counterfeit pills or cocaine and heroin contaminated with fentanyl, regardless of the drug, the outcome for many has been the same. An untimely death. A friend, sister, brother, mom, dad, aunt or uncle, gone too soon. Where is their justice?

It is great the police have pursued the man who played a part in Miller’s death, this should be common practice across the board. Regardless of socioeconomic standing, regardless of the background or stature of the person who overdosed, we should be fighting for their justice. This is something all people, all families, deserve. Mac Miller is one of tens of thousands of people who lost their life to drug overdose last year. His drug dealer is one of thousands of people selling drugs laced with fentanyl. Justice for one, in this case, does not mean justice for all.

To make an impact we must start somewhere, with someone, and I am not taking that away from LAPD and their efforts in apprehending Mac Millers drug dealer- however this epidemic has only gotten worse in the past five years, and thousands more deserve justice. We say that addiction doesn’t discriminate, so why should justice?

Overdose death is preventable. Amatus Recovery Centers owns and operates 11 treatment facilities across the country that offer a full continuum of care in addiction treatment. Whether you are in search of medical detox from drugs or alcohol to long-term group therapy and aftercare, Amatus Recovery Centers will help you. To find out which level of care is the right one for you, call to speak to one of our admissions specialist today at 833-216-3079.

 Amatus Recovery Centers, a division of Amatus Health, offers treatment for drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders in facilities across the country.  To learn more visit amatusrecoverycenters.com.

People Can, and Do, Recover

All too often we hear about the negatives associated with addiction; overdose, theft, unemployment, homelessness, neglected children, disease, and of course, death. It’s time that we cease reinforcing the stigma into society and begin ripping the stigma out of society by showing that people can, and do, recover.

Sharing my story can be beneficial to still-using individuals and their families whom might still be in the process of writing their own stories. I bring my experience to the light, so that others don’t have to continue to suffer in the dark. I say it out loud so that nobody will continue to hurt in silence. It is proven that treatment is more effective than incarceration when it comes to rehabilitation and reintegration back into society. We are fortunate to live in a time when access to care is on the upswing, but there is still so much more work to be done.

Pathways to a beautiful life are available, and it’s so important that we understand that this is a journey, not a destination. Treatment is a phenomenal start, and without it we are simply spinning our wheels in the mud, but it’s not enough. The worst thing I could ever believe is that “I’ve got this”. Addiction is the epitome of disconnection. Recovery entails being connected again.

Addiction is Not a Character Problem

In active addiction, we are disconnected from relationships, from our families, from the law, from stable housing, from healthy social and entertainment activities, and from our overall health and wellbeing. Once we learn how to stop using the substance that was causing the disconnect, the real work begins. We begin to clear up the wreckage of our pasts and right our wrongs. We learn how to enjoy life without being under the influence of a mood- or mind-altering substance, and we adjust to life on life’s terms with healthy coping skills. We find gainful employment and become financial stable. We begin to take care of our bodies and our minds and learn how to look at “health” as something physical, mental, and spiritual. We become productive members of our communities again, or in some instances, for the first time ever.

Addiction is not a character problem, it’s a community problem. If we take the proper steps to support recovery synergistically, the future will be incredibly bright for the world. We need to focus on the present and the future. We’ve all felt pain, but we all deserve to feel love. We’ve all failed at one time or another, yet we can all experience our own definition of success. So many have unfortunately lost their lives, and it’s our obligation to live on and make sure that those lives lost will never be in vain. There is absolutely no shame in beginning again, for we get a chance to build bigger and better than ever before. We all have the power to say, “This is NOT how my story will end.”

An Obligation to Stay Well

After attending 28 treatment centers across the country, dozens of arrests, homelessness, and a handful of overdoses, I finally decided to stop doing things my way, and to follow some simple suggestions from people who had found a way out of the confines of the disease of addiction. I was always concerned with the “why” and “how” this happened to me, rather than simply practicing some acceptance and focusing on a solution. Addiction happens to every demographic of people, and everyone has a different “why” or “how” it may have started, but the fact of the matter is that the opportunity for recovery is equally distributed amongst all of us, and regardless of how many times we’ve fallen, it’s never too late to get back up and start over. If I can do this, anyone can.

During Recovery Month, it’s imperative to support those recovering from any substance use disorder. Millions of us are bettering ourselves, and those around us, every single day. I have an obligation to stay well for myself, for my family, for my friends, for my coworkers, for my community, for those who doubt

that people do recover, and for those still using, who might need to hear a story like mine in order to change.

Matt Bell

CEO, Midwest Recovery Center

President, Team Recovery

Amatus Recovery Centers, a division of Amatus Health, offers treatment for drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders in facilities across the country.  To learn more visit amatusrecoverycenters.com

Skaggs’ Autopsy, and the Language of Addiction

On July 1, Major League Baseball player Tyler Skaggs, 27, a starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels, was found dead in his hotel room in Southlake, Texas.  

In the following weeks, Skaggs’ teammates and MLB players from other teams paid tribute to the pitcher, including a July 12 game in which everyone on the Angels wore Skaggs’ name and number. 

Over the weekend, the medical examiner of Tarrant County, Texas released Skaggs’ autopsy which revealed that at the time of death, Skaggs had oxycodone, fentanyl and alcohol in his system.  The cause of death was ruled as “terminal aspiration of gastric contents,” meaning he choked on his own vomit while intoxicated.

The Response to the Autopsy

The Southlake police are investigating Skaggs’ death. According to a statement released by his family through legal counsel, the investigation is tied to an unnamed Angels employee. In the statement, the family, grieving the loss of their son, said they were “heartbroken” to learn Skaggs had drugs in his system. They called it “completely out of character for someone who worked so hard to become a Major League baseball player.” 

The family, who said they were “in shock” at the fact that an Angels employee might be involved, vowed that “we will not rest until we learn the truth about how Tyler came into possession of these narcotics, including who supplied them.” 

Skaggs’ family is mourning his untimely death, and they are entitled to express their heartbreak, sadness, shock and anger. But unfortunately, the assertion that drug use is “out of character” for someone who is accomplished and has a track record of working hard, is an example the kind of stigma that those with substance use disorder face each day. 

The thousands of deaths caused by drug overdoses, including the recent upsurge in tandem with the American opioid crisis, are preventable. But many do not receive the treatment they need because they are ashamed to come forward about their addiction.

The Language of Addiction and Recovery

Harvard Medical School Professor of Psychiatry, John Kelly is one of the creators of Addiction-ary, an online glossary of addiction-related terminology including words that are considered stigmatizing.  

In a 2017 article, Kelly told the Harvard Gazette that using the appropriate language to talk about addiction “goes beyond political correctness. It’s not just a matter of being nice. What we now know is that actual exposure to these specific terms induces this implicit cognitive bias. If you really want to solve the problem, you want to remove barriers and obstacles.”  

So far, Addiction-ary contains mostly terms that addiction treatment professionals use and focuses less on conversational phrases used by lay people. 

But imagine another Major League Baseball player who is living with addiction seeing the Skaggs family’s statement. It would be hard not to internalize the sentiment that addiction is “out of character” for a professional athlete, even if the facts don’t support that statement.  

Since 2014, three MLB players, Oscar Taveras, Jose Fernandez, and then-recently retired Roy Halladay, all died from vehicle accidents that occurred while they were intoxicated. In 2015, pitcher C.C. Sabathia missed playing in the postseason when he checked himself into rehab for alcohol addiction. These are only a few highly publicized examples of how substance use has impacted, or ended, the lives of talented athletes.   

The results of Southlake Police’s investigation, and a subsequent investigation by Major League Baseball, have yet to be announced, but even if there is foul play involved in Skaggs’ death, more attention should be paid to the prevalence of substance use in baseball and other professional sports.  

There is Help

Even though we call athletes heroes, at the end of the day, they are people, just like you and I. They also live with addiction, anxiety and depression and can’t overcome any of these conditions without help.  

If you are struggling with addiction but are afraid to seek help for fear of hurting your reputation or of losing respect at work, you are not alone. There is help.  

Amatus Recovery Centers across the country offer a full continuum of care in addiction treatment, from detox to inpatient programs to long-term group therapy aftercare. To find out which level of care is the right one for you, call to speak to an admissions specialist today at 833-216-3079. 

 Amatus Recovery Centers, a division of Amatus Health, offers treatment for drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders in facilities across the country.  To learn more visit amatusrecoverycenters.com

Remembering Those We’ve Lost: Overdose Awareness Day

August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day

Drug overdose deaths have spiked drastically in the past five years, with 2017 being one of the worst years for drug overdose deaths with over 72,000 lives lost. Over 40,000 of those deaths can be attributed to opioids, such as heroin and fentanyl.

About 197 Americans die every day from drug overdose, 197 human beings, with families, friends, hopes and dreams.

Overdose Awareness Day is on August 31st and aims to reduce the stigma of addiction while raising awareness of overdose and drug-related death. Overdose Awareness Day is also a day to acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends who have lost someone to overdose. Overdose Awareness Day spreads the message that overdose deaths are preventable.

overdose-awareness-day
Overdose Awareness Day is a day to remember those we have lost and to raise awareness about addiction.

Whether you are in recovery or not, you have probably been affected by drug overdose in some way or another. Dealing with the sudden death of someone you care about can be very difficult, especially when its due to a drug overdose. People are often left with many questions, feelings of “I could have done more,” and frustration. Using Overdose Awareness Day to talk about these feelings and raise awareness about the drug epidemic can be therapeutic for someone going through the grieving process.

Throughout the country, there are many things you can do to observe or participate in Overdose Awareness Day as a way to remember lost loved ones or stand up against stigma. As a way to show support and pay remembrance on Overdose Awareness Day you can hang a black balloon outside your home, show support on social media, share you or your family members story about addiction or recovery, or even attend a local candlelight vigil. Paying remembrance can be therapeutic and open the conversation about prevention, education, and addiction treatment options.

Overdose deaths are devastating, mostly because they are preventable. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, the safest place to be is in treatment working towards long term recovery. You do not have to be another statistic. You deserve to live a life free from alcohol and drugs.

7 Strategies to Interrupt Obsessive Thinking

How many times have you let yourself fall into a fit of worry after something relatively minor happens? Whether a friend hasn’t texted you back, or you performed poorly today at work, pessimistic thoughts can often jump to extremes: if something can go wrong, it will.  

For those with substance use disorder, obsessions are a huge part of our problem. During addiction, we obsess about the next fix, and how we will get it. Even once drinking and drugging have been removed from our lives, obsessive thought patterns can continue. 

These obsessions might be more lowkey, causing you a mild nuisance, not distress. But others can be quite scary, including thoughts of hurting yourself or a loved one.  

If left unmanaged, obsessive thought patterns can affect our mood and even our functioning. Here are a few suggestions to interrupt obsessive thinking.  

Keep Obsessive Thinking in Perspective

While obsessive thoughts are most often negative, and tend to be upsetting, reminding yourself of what they are — only thoughts — can keep things in perspective. If your perseveration is the downward spiral type, remember that these thoughts are projections, or speculations, not reality or actual threats.   

Try to Meditate

For people with anxiety, having to sit still and meditate can feel like a tall order. But remember that meditation is a practice and gets easier with time.  Start slow. Sit still and focus on your breathing for five minutes, then try 10, then more if you’re up for it. If five minutes is too long to begin with, you’d be surprised how much sitting still for one minute can slow down your thoughts.   

Weigh Possibility vs. Probability

When thoughts recur and continue to get more and more negative, they also tend to get more and more unlikely. For example, if you made a mistake at work today, and your boss wants to talk about it later in the week, thought patterns can go from reasonable “Maybe they’ll give me some tips on how to improve” to distressed  “I am going to get fired, and my boss will never give me a good recommendation.”

Is it possible you’ll be fired? Yes. But is it probable? Probably not as much as you’d think.  

Schedule a Time to Worry

Some find it helpful to limit their obsessive thoughts by allowing themselves to have a few moments each day to actively think about them.  By taking short worry breaks, it might be easier to let the thoughts not take up as much room in your head and be less debilitating.

Visualize the Thought in a Less Threatening Way

Sometimes when you think about the obsessive thought, you’ll realize just how improbable it is. Allowing yourself to view it with a sense of humor and laugh at the situation is a healthy way to keep your concern right sized.  

Get Your Heart Pumping

Suggesting to someone who is anxious that they should exercise is old news at this point. But there is a reason it is so often suggested. Strenuous workouts not only allow the body to release natural endorphins but require more acute concentration which is helpful to provide your mind a prolonged distraction to your obsessive thoughts.

There is Help

At the end of the day, seeking professional help to recover from addiction or mental health issues might be the most productive option. There is no shame in seeking help, and you are not alone.

Substance use disorder is a based on a compulsion to use drugs or drink alcohol, and the clinicians and behavioral health technicians at Amatus Recovery Centers are committed to helping you develop healthy thought patterns and coping skills. To learn more about our facilities, and which level of care is the right fit for you, call an admissions specialist at 833-216-3079.

Judge Rules Against J&J. What’s Next?

An Oklahoma judge ruled against pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson on Monday, finding the company guilty of fueling the state’s opioid addiction epidemic.

Oklahoma sued Johnson & Johnson for more than $17 billion to cover costs of its plan to reverse the epidemic over the next 30 years, but ultimately District Court Judge Thad Balkman ordered the company to pay the state $572 million. According to Balkman’s ruling, the amount would cover the first year of Oklahoma’s plan to combat opiates.

The First Case of Many

This case was the first at state level to make it to court, and first to hold a pharmaceutical company legally accountable for its role in the opioid crisis. Previously, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter settled out of court with Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharmaceuticals for $270 million and $85 million respectively. After Purdue and Teva settled, Johnson & Johnson were the only remaining defendants.

Christopher Ruhm, a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Virginia devised the 30-year plan that Oklahoma referenced in coming to its $17 billion total. In Ruhm’s plan, there would be funding for multiple levels of addiction treatment, education programs, supports and pharmacy data systems over the course of three decades.

After Balkman’s decision to award the state a small fraction of that total, it will be up to state legislators to determine how those dollars will be spent. Johnson & Johnson’s lawyers said the company plans to appeal the decision.

What’s Next?

It is hard to say if the outcome of the Oklahoma case will set a precedent for the many upcoming cases against pharmaceutical companies. Oklahoma’s victory comes at a time when there are thousands of lawsuits across the country against pharmaceutical companies. As of this summer, 47 states and the District of Columbia filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma.

The next case to be heard will be in federal court starting October 21. Cuyahoga and Summit Counties in Ohio consolidated 2,000 of 2,500 lawsuits in those counties against the pharmaceutical manufacturers. No settlements have been made, so all three companies are still defendants.

There is Help

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 130 people die every day from an opioid overdose. The crisis continues to claim lives, but the easiest way to recover from opioid use disorder is to ask for help.
From opioid detox, to inpatient treatment, to long-term after-care, Amatus Recovery Centers offers a full continuum of care in addiction treatment. To find out which level of care is right for you, call an admission specialist at 833-216-3079.

5 Tips to Dealing With Back to School Stress

5 Tips on Dealing With Back to School Stress

Summer is quickly coming to a close, and fall is right around the corner. For some, this means nothing but the changing of seasons, for others this is “back to school” season.

Going back to school can bring a mixture of emotions to new and returning students alike, whether its excitement or nerves or something in between. A lot of the time, we are excited for that first day back, to catch up with friends, to walk around campus, the “easy” first week, however it doesn’t last that way for long. Many of us know that regardless of how happy we are to return to the routine of college, see our friends, and experience freedom from parents, it can get stressful very quickly. One week we might get a syllabus, then the next week we feel we have three papers, two exams, and twenty chapters to complete.

Whether you are in recovery or not, stress can be debilitating. Dealing with the stress of balancing school with everyday life, relationships, and our mental health, doesn’t have to be so difficult. These tips can help reduce back to school stress, before it even starts.

Going back to school can cause a lot of stress, which can lead to substance abuse and mental health problems in young adults. Do you know how to cope with stress, without drinking or drugging?

1. Pencil in “Me Time”

Scheduling me time can help you keep a clear head, give you space to meditate, pray or journal, and helps you get into a positive “self-care” routine. Your me time doesn’t have to be an hour long with a three-part full body meditation, it could be ten minutes before bed when your washing your face, or the five-minute walk to your car. With this time, focus on yourself, what are you thinking, what are you feeling, and how is it positively or negatively affecting you?

2. Get Plenty of Sleep

I know, 8 hours of sleep may seem impossible, but it could greatly increase your mood and productivity. A good way to work on getting enough sleep is turning off your “blue light” on your phone, minimizing the use of TV’s, consuming less caffeine, and setting a “sleep time” schedule that you regularly adhere to. (yes, even on the weekends!)

3. Healthy Coping Skills

Everyone has different coping skills, from painting to baking to going for a walk. Whatever you can do to keep your mind off of something stressful, or to clear your head, can be a healthy coping skill that you can use to get through life’s difficult moments.

4. Create a Support Network

Your support network can be a group of friends, your family, a support group such as AA or NA, or even a therapist. Creating a support group can be helpful for more than just someone to vent to, they can help with advice, they can come from a place of non judgement, and they can help you through the bad times and cheer you on through the good times.

5. Get Up and Move!

Exercising can improve your mood and alleviate stress, whether its walking, running, weight lifting, or dancing, moving around can take your mood from a two to a ten!

Sometimes stress can become too much to handle, you don’t have to go through this alone. By reaching out for help you can finally learn how to utilize coping skills and live life without drugs and alcohol. Call 833-216-3079 to learn more about managing stress without drugs and alcohol.

Don’t Let Recovery Get You Canned

SoftPro, a Delaware software company headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, agreed to pay a former IT employee, Matthew Elliott, $80,000 after Elliott sued the company for firing him for having a perceived disability.  

Elliott is in recovery from opiate addiction and participated in physician-supervised medication-assisted treatment (MAT) since 2009. When Elliott voluntarily decided to enter inpatient treatment to eliminate the need for MAT in February of 2017, SoftPro fired him.  

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) represented Elliott, and was also successful in requiring that SoftPro “revise, implement and distribute personnel policies to state that the company does not exclude employees based on their participation in a medication-assisted treatment program,” according to a statement by the commission.  

What is Medication-Assisted Treatment?

MAT for opiate addiction is a corrective, not curative, way to relieve opiate cravings for individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD). The Food and Drug Administration approves three medications—methadone, naltrexone and buprenorphine—as MAT options for opiate use. These medications also prevent withdrawal symptoms, and although methadone and buprenorphine are opiates, they do not produce the same euphoric sensations as prescription pain killers or heroin. 

These treatments are, however, quite controversial in drug treatment and recovery circles. Despite the benefits of MAT, many assert that using these treatments are simply replacing one addiction with another.  

While most drug treatment programs in the United States promote abstinence-based recovery, a growing number of treatment facilities are embracing MAT programs, which are said to improve the social functioning and increase treatment retention for those with OUD. 

Substance Use and Disabilities Protection

The Americans with Disabilities Act from 1990 offers protections for those with a history of substance use disorder (SUD), although not for current drug users. For example, if an applicant or employee tests positive for an illegal drug, that person cannot immediately enter a drug rehabilitation and claim the same protections as someone who had an extended period without drugs, or voluntarily enters drug treatment.  

This is what made Elliott’s case so complicated.  As a participant in a MAT program, Elliott is rightfully not considered a current user, although his being fired by SoftPro might lead some to believe he was. But dropping a MAT program without supervision is not recommended and can cause opiate withdrawal symptoms. As a person with a history of substance use, Elliott was within his rights to enter treatment to carefully and safely eliminate his need for MAT and start a new chapter in his recovery.  

If MAT is currently part of your recovery and you would like to transition into abstinence-based recovery, there is help. At facilities around the country, Amatus Recovery Centers offer a full continuum of care, from detox to inpatient or partial hospitalization programs to long-term after care.  

To find out which level of care if the best fit for you, call 833-216-3079 to speak to an admissions specialist.