There are many misconceptions about buprenorphine and other advanced
opioid dependency treatment options. Too many. Most of the
misconceptions spring from rumor, innuendo and simple misinformation.
One of the most prevalent misconceptions is that buprenorphine and other
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) options simply replace one addiction
with another. In fact, even some physicians still believe this myth.
But, as the New England Journal of Medicine itself makes clear, addiction
isn’t defined by physiological dependence. Addiction is defined by
compulsive use of a drug despite its inherent harm.
“If relying on a daily medication were addiction,” says the NEJM, “then most
patients with chronic health conditions such as diabetes or asthma would
be considered addicts.”
So no, buprenorphine isn’t a replacement drug; it’s a treatment drug.
Another myth is that abstinence is always best. Yes, abstinence-based
treatment models have provided some successes. But those successes are
impossible to quantify, let alone prove. In fact, even Alcoholics Anonymous
has trouble accurately tabulating its recovery success rate, and it’s the
longest-running abstinence-based program in America!
A widely-cited Scottish study though did report an 80% relapse rate after a
full year of abstinence. And that hardly qualifies as successful, in anybody’s
Consequently, MAT shouldn’t be ranked against unreliably-calibrated
abstinence-based programs. After all, not everyone benefits from
abstinence. And as the above-cited study attests, that includes a whole lot