Is The Freedom Model for Addictions Opposed to MOUD?
No. There you have it. The Freedom Model for Addictions is not opposed to anyone who wants to take medications for “opioid use disorder”. But with that blanket statement made, it is important to know that we are opposed to lying to the masses to make them believe that MOUD is the only way to curb opiate use. This assertion that all opiate users must use MOUD (formerly known as MAT) sounds remarkably similar to the assertion over the past 80 years that all heavy drinkers and drug users must attend 12 step meetings. Both are based on the same inaccurate definition of addiction: that it is a progressive, incurable disease that renders people forever powerless (i.e. out of control) over their substance use.
Please consider this question: if MOUD is supposed to be the new “gold standard” in addiction treatment, then why are the rates for overdoses, and deaths from overdoses, skyrocketing at a time when MOUD is being prescribed at record levels? This is a serious question that everyone should be asking.
Let’s start with the lie. It’s simple really, the lie being told is the same lie that has filled AA and NA meeting rooms and for-profit rehabs for more than 80 years now, and that is, “Once you start (using substances), you can’t stop.” It’s the old, tired, “loss of control” theory being peddled as real, but in new medical clothes. With the MOUD movement, the presupposition is simple – you have a disease or disorder called addiction that renders you compelled to use past your free will to stop. This is no different than the boogeyman of compelled use that’s been scaring the masses for decades. And with that assumption, one must be placed on “good” drugs (suboxone, naltrexone, etc.) to stop them from taking the “bad” drugs (heroin, meth, alcohol, etc.)
The question The Freedom Model brings up over and over in our book is simple: When talking with an active opiate user who wants to stop or adjust their use, why not begin the conversation with the simple, but massively empowering truth, by saying,
“Awesome, it sounds like you’re ready for a change. That’s great! Did you know that research shows that more than 90% of opiate users move past their problematic use as a function of age? What this means is that whether you are treated or not, you’re likely to solve your problem. Isn’t it great news to learn that your current habit is just like any other habit, and that given some time, you will move on from it? And, if you are provided accurate information, that evolution can happen much faster for you! Here’s some new ideas and research to debunk the harmful misinformation you’ve been told, which is that you’re broken and an addict. Let’s get started debunking those lies! The first myth to debunk is that you are (or have been) powerless and out of control. Once that is debunked, we will move on to the other 33 myths that keep people trapped. We have helped more than 26,000 people move past their substance use struggles with this message of hope and the supportive research that backs it up.”
So, within the Freedom Model umbrella is there a case to be made for any MOUD regimens? Yes, of course. If a person wants to withdraw from opiates a little easier, these medications can be prescribed by licensed medical personnel for a measured taper to ease opiate withdrawal symptoms. Here’s another scenario – should a person enjoy their current using lifestyle, but they are in an area or demographic where the black market drug supply is dangerously laced with fentanyl, the temporary use of MOUD such as suboxone or methadone can be a bridge as they find better supply alternatives. But make note that neither of these options makes the assumption that the individual is diseased, broken, or out of control of their use, or that they will need MOUD for life in order to not use “bad” opiates.
Lastly, The Freedom Model is not a detox, nor is it a medical model, and it is not prescriptive in any sense – it’s simply the researched truth laid out in our 470 page book, The Freedom Model for Addictions: Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap. We have zero opinion on what an individual “should do.” So if you want to take MOUD for any length of time, then take it. But know that you don’t have to feel stuck on it and you don’t have to believe that it is your only option. If you want to know the truth about addictions, and how people get over them, we have that for you.
In the final analysis, when you have fully debunked all the lies and misinformation being peddled in the Recovery Society, you won’t need prescribed drugs to stop taking “bad” drugs. You will know that you don’t need either for any reason, and only then will you will experience true freedom from the addiction and recovery trap.
For more information about this topic and other addiction and recovery myths debunked, register for our free, one-hour Move Past Addiction Masterclass here.
Mark Scheeren is the co-creator of The Freedom Model for Addictions programs, co-author of The Freedom Model for Addictions: Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap, and Chairman of Baldwin Research Institute, Inc., and co-host of The Addiction Solution Podcast. He is an Alcoholics Anonymous historian and one of the leading addiction experts in the world today. He has been researching addiction and helping people to solve their addictions for the last 34 years.