My take on Medication-Assisted Recovery Anonymous (MARA)

Last night I came across a most interesting web article on the Slate website written by Jillian Bauer-Reese all about a new 12 Step group called “MARA”. The article is entitled: “There’s a New 12-Step Group: Medication-Assisted Recovery Anonymous”.

Here’s an excerpt:

“The use of prescribed methadone and buprenorphine—referred to as medication-assisted recovery when combined with psychosocial treatments like peer support and talk therapy—is undeniably the most effective treatment for opioid use disorder, according to the evidence. Research has repeatedly shown that these medications reduce opioid addiction­–related deaths by 50 percent or more, increase treatment retention, and decrease infectious disease transmission and criminal activity.

Despite this evidence, patients with opioid use disorder frequently receive pressure from family members, 12-step groups, and outdated, punitive policies in treatment centers, recovery houses, and court systems to not take these medications at all, or to stop taking them before they’re ready, according to addiction specialists who treat them. Dr. Sarah Wakeman, the medical director of the Substance Use Disorder Initiative at Massachusetts General Hospital, attributes much of this stigma to confusion between physiological dependence and addiction.”

…And further into the article:

“I think it’s heartbreaking because if a person had cancer or had any other chronic illness and they were valiantly managing it, people in their lives would be supporting them and encouraging them to take their medication every day to stay healthy,” Wakeman tells me. “The need to keep it a secret or feel like it’s something shameful when people are doing really well on treatment is challenging and can really undermine someone’s recovery.”

Dr. Wakeman is right. It is heartbreaking that someone’s recovery should be diminished in such a cruel way; shameful, in fact. But all too common, tragically.

Since I successfully recovered from alcohol addiction using The Sinclair Method 5 years ago I’ve had numerous people try to discount my recovery. I’ve had everything from “…oh then you were obviously never a real alcoholic in the first place if you did it without the steps” (an example of the old No True Scotsman fallacy) to people trying to unsuccessfully argue (despite the mass of statistically significant studies that say otherwise) that The Sinclair Method is only successful thanks to the placebo effect.

But, as previously indicated, the article does have a wonderful silver lining in that it tells the story of a plucky MAT activist and pioneer called Megan McAllister who has set up her own Medication-Assisted Recovery Anonymous (MARA) group and who has inspired other people in the states to do the same.

Again, quoting the article:

“Why should I feel ashamed for doing something that’s saved my life?” McAllister asks me. “I was putting a needle in my arm every 10 minutes—methadone saved my life.”

I really hope this catches on. Though the emphasis of the article is only upon medication-assisted recovery for opioid addiction, I also think that something like this could also be really useful to people using The Sinclair Method – something that I have previously spoken about in-depth HERE and also, most recently, in this youTube vlog.

Well done to all concerned for such a good article.


Author: Gary Bell

Gary Bell is a writer, illustrator and teacher based in Hartlepool in the north east of England. The Sinclair Method (a revolutionary pharmacological treatment for alcohol addiction) saved his life over 5 years ago.

2 thoughts on “My take on Medication-Assisted Recovery Anonymous (MARA)”

  1. A narcotics addict switching from heroin to methadone or subutex is like a drunk switching from liquor to wine. Especially methadone. Most methadone users have the junkie slack jaw, nod, pinned eyes, strained raspy voice, all the telltale signs. As a lifelong addict, I know what I’m talking about here. I have used all of the above over long periods. These alternative narcotics do give you a shot at cleaning your life up if you try hard enough, but you’re still practicing your vice. Any other claim is nonsense. I can’t count the times I’ve heard “I’m clean, man” from someone high as a kite on methadone.

    1. MAT is designed around “harm-reduction” instead of “abstinence.” Studies have shown that the harm-reduction model has been more successful at saving lives.

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