Posted on November 22, 2010 by Laura Fuller
Suboxone (Buprenorphine) for Opiate Addiction | Should I use Suboxone or Subutex?
Please note that the author of this article is not a medical doctor, nor warrants or represents any such equivalent training. Only a doctor is qualified to prescribe medicine and to determine whether or not a particular medication should be used by you or another. This article expresses only a layperson opinion and should never be seen as an adequate substitute for a formal, medical opinion and should definitely not be used as a primary basis for discontinuing a medication.
Suboxone has gained popularity in the past few years as a prominent means of treating opiate dependence. As a basic explanation adequate for our purposes here, suboxone occupies the same receptors in the brain as that of more traditional opiates like heroin, methodone, oxycodone, etc., however the claim is that it doesn’t produce the “high” associated with these other substances. Therefore, a person formerly addicted to opiates can theoretically live a productive life while on Suboxone, functioning in society and all the while avoiding withdrawal symptoms. In other words, if a person is desirous of kicking opiates but they don’t want to suffer through withdrawal, then switching to suboxone has often been the plan of treatment prescribed by many physicians.
There is a lot of debate within the recovery community as to the suitability of suboxone as a medication in the recovery process. At Origins, we take the stance that suboxone is like any other medication that may be problematic long term but can assist with a proper medical detox. Take Ativan, for instance. It is often used for withdrawal from a number of substances but, it itself, is a highly addictive substance and, as a side note, addiction to it actually carries one of the most dangerous withdrawals. We view Ativan and Suboxone to be the same, in that that it should be used sparingly if at all, only under a doctor’s direct care, only either directly administered by a professional or self-administered under the supervision of a professional during the detox period and it should be tapered off as soon as medically possible.
We have heard anecdotally that some doctors tell patients that they can remain on suboxone therapy indefinitely; the rest of their life if they like. We absolutely disagree with this position and we invite anyone who has been told this or has a family member who has been told this to really consider the motives of a physician who sets a patient on a plan of treatment that keeps them permanently beholden to seeing that same physician on a regular basis. In other words, in such a situation, who benefits? Obviously the physician has financial incentive to keep a patient returning and, as well, the makers of the drug, while they probably won’t admit it, are a large publicly traded entity who primary concern is the company’s bottom-line. The patient, however, remains an addict. A suboxone addict.
Where does this skepticism over the drug come from? Well, let’s take a look at an excerpt from a very well-known website among those in the drug culture where they report their “experiences” with certain drugs (Google “Suboxone experiences” to read many such “reports”). Here is a person who self-identifies as formerly having a meth-addiction and here is what he says about a relatively low, 2mg dose of suboxone he takes recreationally on a semi-regular basis:
That sure sounds like a pretty intense opiate high to us. From what we have been told experientially, Suboxone is really just a milder high that can be substituted for other opiates and often becomes the only choice for someone whose nefarious dealings in pursuit of opiates has led them to a place where there only choice is to get high legally, which, quite frankly, is exactly what getting suboxone from a doctor is. It’s really no different than the methadone program.
Also, please note, that the above description comes from an individual who bought this drug on the black market and we all know a black market only exists for drugs that get you high recreationally. People don’t seek a black market for pills because of their wonderful therapeutic value; they do so because they want to get high. It seems to us very clear, by virtue of the illegal behavior around this medication that it has no place in the legitimate recovery community.
We will further buttress this point by years of experience with patients who attempted the Suboxone route of recovery, only to eventually end up in treatment when they tried to get off of suboxone itself. Suboxone is a band-aid solution to a very, very critical situation.
True recovery requires a lucid, sober mind and suboxone doesn’t afford an individual that. Yes, withdrawing without prolonged use of suboxone is going to be more uncomfortable, but that level of discomfort is absolutely necessary to becoming truly recovered. Who said recovery was supposed to be completely comfortable? Quite frankly, it was probably this unwillingness to feel anything uncomfortable that got you addicted to opiates in the first place. This is truly one of those “not guts, no glory” or “no pain, no gain” situations.
Just remember: there has never been a documented instance of a person dying from opiate withdrawal (you may feel like you want to die), however there have been countless number of people who have died from opiate overdose after unsuccessfully trying to quit opiates. So, it’s that simple. Do you want to live or die? If you choose life, then you have to do it the right way and that means you can’t prolong your addiction by remaining on suboxone indefinitely.
At Origins we will accept patients who are presently on suboxone if under the supervision of their physician they will be rapidly tapered off the medication. We will not admit anyone who is expected to remain on the drug for a prolonged period of time. Furthermore, we will calculate such a patient’s “sobriety date” as of a day after their last date of ingestion of suboxone as we don’t believe a person is ever sober while on suboxone. In other words, if you are coming to Origins for a 90-day stay and it takes you 10-days to taper off suboxone, you can expect to be there for a total of 100 days (90 days after your last suboxone).
Are you addicted to suboxone? If so, call us to talk about it at 1-844-U-GET-WELL (844-843-8935) or click the contact button below. Treatment is your only true option.