Why are 12-step programs so important in the treatment of prescription drug abuse? If you’ve already started receiving treatment at a local methadone or Suboxone program, you may be annoyed every time your counselor or the doctor asks you how many meetings you’ve gone to and whether you have your meeting log sheet. Why do you have to go to 12-step meetings if you’re going to the clinic, seeing the doctor, and passing your urine drug screens?
The fact is that 12-step meetings play a huge role in putting together a recovery plan that will take you down the road to a long and healthy life. Recovery takes place in the rooms, according to many specialists who provide addiction medicine treatment.
Beginning Prescription Drug Abuse Therapy
Many people who come to a methadone program for an assessment may have chosen to come because they are sick and tired of waking up sick and tired, but they have no understanding of addiction. Others who come do so only because they were ordered by the courts or they had a husband or wife who begged them to try it.
They do not understand that addiction from prescription drug abuse is like an octopus with long tentacles that can reach out and strangle you at any given moment. You can be on guard against all those tentacles but if you don’t understand how they work and you lose your focus on any of the tentacles, that tentacle will be the one to drag you under and pull you down.
People also do not realize that prescription drug abuse from opiate pain pills is one of the most compelling addictions on the face of the Earth. Any feelings you have that recovery is difficult can be validated by the many stories of people who have struggled with recovery from opiates. You are not just imagining that recovery seems so difficult—it really is! And that’s why you need the 12-step groups in your local neighborhood.
Finding a Group
People who overcome prescription drug abuse using methadone or Suboxone often feel as if they do not fit in at Alcoholics Anonymous or at Narcotics Anonymous. Unfortunately, there are very few Methadone Anonymous meetings. AA is, of course, for alcoholics, and NA is for narcotics but supports recovery through abstinence. Both of these groups have “traditions,” and they say that the only requirement for membership is the desire to stop using. NA has published its Bulletin 29 that says it accepts methadone patients as attendees at meetings but they cannot do leads or put items on the agenda.
So, if you’re going to a methadone or Suboxone clinic to treat your prescription drug abuse, you may wonder how welcome you are. But just remember that every 12-step meeting carries the personality of its regular attendees. You may have to try out several meetings in your neighborhood before you find the one with people that make you feel comfortable.
And here’s the other thing: You don’t have to tell anyone there that you’re in methadone treatment. How you opt to treat your prescription drug abuse is a confidential matter between you and your doctor. There is no reason to beat your chest and holler mea culpa. As long as you’re not using the prescription drug that was your drug of choice, you do not have to report any relapse, and you can take your coins just like anybody else.
However, many people are bothered by the idea of keeping it a secret, because secrets are discouraged in the recovery community. But what’s a good day in the life without some kind of reasonable secret? As you look for a sponsor, you will want to seek out a person who is open-minded about methadone or Suboxone treatment, and that’s really the only person with whom you need to share your secret.
What you will learn once you find a 12-step meeting that you like is that you are not alone. The stories that you hate to think about late at night when you can’t sleep, and the stories that are worse because you were so high you can’t quite remember them will fade away in the 12-step rooms. You will learn that other people have stories, too—some not so bad as yours and some much worse.
There are also online 12-step meetings. If you opt for online meetings, you will get a confirmation number at the end of the meeting. You can write that down on your meeting log sheet and also make a note of the meeting chairman’s name. Your doctor and counselor will probably accept your attendance at online meetings, although they will encourage you to attend occasional live meetings.
You will learn how recovery works for some people overcoming prescription drug abuse and how it works for others. Setting goals become clear when you talk to people who have been doing this for a while. Entering the stages of change becomes comfortable and your place at your favorite meeting will be waiting for you. And at some point you will reach the stage when you are the one accepting a newbie into the meeting room where you are a staple.