Why Do Some Suboxone Programs Require Counseling?

It’s clear that addictive substances have a damaging impact on the body. These effects harm the physical health of an individual. But addiction also takes a toll on the mental health of a person. The mind and body both need healing to achieve a full recovery.  

If you are wondering, “Why do some programs have Suboxone counseling requirements?”, you are not alone. Those considering Suboxone treatment or in the middle of receiving it sometimes have doubts and fears about counseling.

Read on to learn why counseling requirements can be a beneficial part of treatment.

Is Medication Sufficient?

For many patients, medication alone is sufficient to help them in their battle with addiction. Buprenorphine, the active ingredient in Suboxone, controls withdrawal symptoms and cravings. In some cases, that is all that people need to fight their addiction.

In addition, people who are recovering from Opioid Use Disorder, are likely to be taking Suboxone or other buprenorphine medications for many years while they try to rebuild their lives. For many of those patients, who are no longer tempted by opioids, the medication alone is enough. They might choose to attend recovery meetings or seek additional support from a faith leader.

Approximately two out of three patients who are prescribed Suboxone are stable and only return for monthly maintenance appointments with a provider. Counseling should be available to stable patients but should not be required. Requiring stable patients to engage in unneeded counseling creates two major problems:

  1. Stable patients ought to be able to make their own decisions about what kinds of services they need. Forcing them to meet with counselors can interfere with their attempts to work or take care of family.
  2. Blanket requirements for counseling creates an unnecessary financial burden on payers:  individuals, health insurers, and self-insured companies.

Programs should be sophisticated enough to provide individualized treatment to their patients. That means assessing each patient at each appointment and bringing the appropriate level of care to address each patient’s individual needs. Stable patients should experience only the lightest of interventions.

MAT Calls for a Two-Part Approach  

For patients who are struggling with active addiction or who relapse, higher levels of care may be appropriate. If medication alone is not healing a patient, providers are obligated to point patients to services that can help them.

Medication Assisted Treatment, also known as MAT, is an evidence-based approach to treating opioid addiction. Unlike other systems that are abstinence-based, MAT utilizes Suboxone to assist individuals in their recovery.

But it’s important to remember that Suboxone is part of a larger treatment plan. If patients need more help, it can be supplemented with additional services. When you enter into a MAT program, you are eligible to receive both medication and behavioral therapy.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services highlights the importance of counseling in complete addiction treatment, sharing that medication “alone is rarely sufficient treatment for drug addiction”. For most patients, drug abuse counseling—individual or group—and participation in self-help programs are necessary components of comprehensive addiction care.”

In short, treating addiction often involves more than medication. It is the combination of Suboxone and behavioral health services like therapy that is most effective at interrupting the cycle of addiction that is all too common.

The reasons behind substance use counseling requirements are grounded in research. Let’s explore this in detail below.  

Counseling is an effective tool for overcoming addiction

One of the best answers to “why are there Suboxone counseling requirements?” comes from research on addiction treatment tactics. It turns out that counseling can be a necessary and impactful method of fostering freedom from opioid addiction.

One reason that people may be skeptical of counseling is a lack of belief in its effectiveness. But a large body of research proves that counseling can be a beneficial addition to a treatment plan.  

Research from SAMHSA found that “regardless of what setting MAT is provided in, it is more effective when counseling and other behavioral health therapies are included…”.

Unlike medication, which helps decrease the physical pull of addiction, counseling goes beneath the surface to uncover the root of the problem. Unearthing the true cause of the addiction is a major step towards stopping the pull it has in one's life.

In addition to sharing your struggles and successes in your addiction journey, counseling is a place to learn methods of coping with the stresses of life in a healthy way. The tools and techniques that individuals learn about in counseling equip them to face challenges on the road to recovery.

A study from the National Institute of Health found that counseling offers a source of motivation for individuals to stay on the right path. Additionally, it supports long term positive behavioral changes that aid in recovery efforts.

The supportive aspect of counseling is another element that lends to its effectiveness. People feel accountable for their actions when they talk to someone regularly about an addiction. Even online support groups offer this benefit for many.

Find the counseling style that works best for you

At MATClinics, we take the science-backed approach to treating opioid addiction. This means that each patient is assessed at each appointment and the appropriate mix of services are available. Suboxone counseling is part of the “whole-patient” treatment system we offer. We understand that this is not a one-size-fits-all process. That is why we offer many different types of counseling based on the needs of each individual.

Whether you select one-on-one sessions or group meetings, the accredited counselors at MATClinics offer a support system to you throughout your journey.

Learn about the different counseling options we offer at one of our outpatient centers in Maryland. And reach out to MATClinics to start a treatment plan that addresses you in a complete way.

Speak to a member of our team to schedule a New Patient visit, or just to get more information.

Thank you for your inquiry, we will reach out to you soon. If you don’t want to wait, please call or text us at 410.220.0720.
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