What is the old recovery?
There are two major 12 step Fellowship organizations with the worldwide presence. Both were founded in the mid to early 20th century. Drug addiction and alcoholism quickly went from being hopeless terminal conditions to well defined illnesses that could be successfully treated with group support and of course the 12 steps. What are the overall success rate of these programs may have been fairly low, it was dramatically better than doing nothing at all.
As we move into the early 21st century, addiction recovery has began a new phase of evolution. We are seeing the beginning of what is known as “the new recovery”. And, with evolution, there is the inevitable clash of old and new.
What is the new recovery?
This term, coined by Dr. Adam Bisaga, refers to people who are successfully living full lives after quitting the use of dangerous opioids and opiates such as heroin and oxycodone. Their recovery has been made possible by MAT or Medication Assisted Treatment. This form of medical treatment involves the use of relatively new medications, such as Suboxone. Patients who follow a sound medical treatment plan with Suboxone do not exhibit addictive behavior while being treated. They function normally, going to work and coming home to take care of their families. It is what is meant by “the new recovery”.
New vs Old
Traditionally, in Narcotics Anonymous (NA) for example, recovery means being abstinent from all drugs. For now, NA considers people who take Suboxone to not be fully clean from all drugs. There has been, however, some progress. Originally, it was determined that people on Suboxone should not share in meetings at all. Now, the policy is that it is up to each individual group to decide if they may share or not. While not a perfect solution, it is progress.
How can new and old coexist?
Coexisting may not be the best solution in the short term. Unfortunately, when people on Suboxone go to NA meetings, they are sometimes told by group members that they should quit their medication. This is not in line with NA policy. Medical decision making should never occur at an NA meeting. Yet, it does happen and it can lead to a deadly relapse and overdose.
Fellowships for the new recovery.
There are new 12-step fellowships that are agreeable to the terms of the new recovery. People who take Suboxone may attend these meetings and be considered clean. They can work with a sponsor and work on the 12-steps. Such groups can provide a long term solution or, at least a bridge to the long term goal of abstinence.