Experts Choose Medication-Assisted Treatment Over Medical Marijuana at 2018 ASAM Conference

The message at this year’s American Society of Addiction Medicine’s annual conference was loud and clear: opioid-based maintenance drugs over medical marijuana. While public perception has been seemingly shifting in the opposite direction, addiction treatment experts at this year’s conference in San Diego say they support medications like Suboxone, Vivitrol and methadone to the increasingly popular medical cannabis option when dealing withdrawal-related chronic pain and sickness. Consensus behind medication-assisted treatment (MAT) as the gold standard for addiction care was essentially unanimous at this year’s conference as attendees insisted it was the best way to save patients’ lives. There was also significant pushback against the use of medical marijuana.

Solid Support for MAT

Representatives from the addiction treatment community say that it’s not a matter of ideology that compels them to choose medication-assisted treatment, as many organizations have stated, rather a matter of saving patients’ lives and reducing relapse. While many skeptics have pushed back against the use of MAT drugs, they have been shown to be remarkably effective in the mitigation of cravings and the easing of withdrawal symptoms. Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, assistant secretary of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, touted the use of addiction-fighting medications during a Friday opening plenary in front of some 2,000 doctors and other event attendees at the conference.

The Other Side

Proponents of medication-assisted treatment also pointed to the encouraging results seen in prison inmates to prevent post-incarceration abuse and overdose in Rhode Island, which were published in the JAMA Psychiatry. Many opponents of MAT say that it leaves patients vulnerable to developing further addiction. These medications have been made available to inmates in other states as well, including Texas. Recovery Unplugged Texas offers safe, convenient and effective medication-assisted treatment to eligible patients and is fully mindful of the risks involved.