Thursday, April 2, 2009
Suboxone: Miracle drug or more of the same?
As you may have heard, there is a new drug that is being used nationwide to assist opiate addicts with their withdrawal symptoms while trying to kick their habit. Buprenorphine hydrochloride, better known by its brand name, Suboxone, is a narcotic that is available for prescription from a regular doctor, as opposed to methadone, which is available only at approved clinics.
What does it do? In simple terms, it alleviates the addict from typical opiate withdrawal symptoms such as body ache, nausea, cravings, insomnia, cold and hot sweats and many other absolutely horrific symptoms. Sounds great, right? Yes and no.
Yes, this is a wonderful new drug when used properly, but like any other narcotic, if misused and abused it too can become addictive.
It is extremely important to remember that opiate addiction is no simple matter. Opiate addicts are still in need of intensive inpatient treatment, with or without Suboxone. The problem we are seeing with this new miracle drug is that doctors are freely prescribing Suboxone to opiate addicts with no program of treatment to go with it. When this happens, not only does the addict transfer addictions from opiates to Suboxone, but many times they are combining this new drug with their already out of control addiction to heroin, Oxycontin, etc. One may see proof of this in the headlines from Google News:
"They allege he stole the prescription medication Suboxone from a residence in Lisbon earlier this month."
"Suboxone is an opiate therapy drug, and “what we’re finding is, just like methadone, it is being widely diverted and sold, just like methadone,” Crandall said, adding that one “can” get high off it."
"Police tell the Patriot-Ledger of Quincy that they raided the home at about 5 p.m. Tuesday and arrested 56-year-old Janet Evans and seized 70 small bags of heroin, Suboxone and Seroquel pills, marijuana, and a small amount of cocaine with a street value of about $1,500."
"Michael Wellman, 48, pleaded guilty to the three charges involving the prescription drugs Vicodin and Suboxone. He was arrested after police investigated the death of Aundrea Benson, 20, who died of a drug overdose in October."
This new epidemic was brought to my attention because as of late, I have been working with a plethora of families who are reaching out to Intervention 911 seeking advice and guidance about a loved one who is on Suboxone, but still seems to have a flourishing addiction. This is because Suboxone is not a miracle drug. Although the withdrawal symptoms may be alleviated for a time or the addict is not using nearly as much of their drug of choice, their addiction and the sickness that accompanies it is still alive and well. This drug is not an effective replacement for treatment and must be used ALONG WITH a program of recovery. Otherwise, we will continue to see what we are seeing now: prolonged addictions and no realistic, life of freedom in sight. A life lived dependent on any chemical is a life lived in bondage.
Our goal at Intervention 911 is to help families free themselves and their loved ones from the ties of addiction. This doesn't mean finding a less harmful alternative to opiates, it means getting to the core of the problem and dealing with the issues that are causing the addict to continue to use.