Medication-assisted treatment

This term is used to describe substitution treatments, including opiate substitution and stimulant substitution for example.

The term is becoming more commonly used in Scotland partly because it was adopted by the Drug Death Task Force in 2019.

The term is not widely contested. However, there is an ambiguity in regard to the element of treatment that is not medication. Is this always required and on occasion, when nothing else is delivered except medication, what issues arise?

The provision of substitution medication alone can greatly improve a person’s social and health status. It can transform a person’s life and the lives of people close to them (see OST). In this case to describe the intervention as harm reduction may seem an inadequate description (see harm reduction).

However, when the person still has very obvious challenges in terms of mental and physical health and in their social conditions – housing, employment, access to their children and family support, for example, there remains a sense that their ‘treatment’ is incomplete (see treatment).