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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Are people on Suboxone sober? With the opioid epidemic raging, the battle against heroin and opiate addiction continues to increase. The number of people entering treatment for opioid dependency continues to rise. The way the addiction industry, doctors, psychiatrists, and detoxes treat opioid addiction has shifted in the last decade.

The trend is leaning towards Medication-Assisted Treatment, specifically replacement therapy. Methadone, which has been around for decades, has been controversial in its effectiveness. Studies and results focusing on the long-term results of Methadone on abstinence from other opioids have varied. Arguments exists as well about whether Methadone can be abused or used to “get high”.

Two Sides to the Issue

This posts deals specifically about Buprenorphine, commonly prescribed as Suboxone or Subutex, and the questions it raises about medication and sobriety. As with most ‘controversial’ topics, there are two sides to the issue. First I will explain the stringent or sobriety purists view on people taking Suboxone. There are indeed people and members of 12 step groups who will claim that people on medication-assisted treatment, such as Buprenorphine are not sober. This has caused tension between addiction specialists, chronic pain patients, and recovery programs. Here is why some may believe that people taking Suboxone or Subutex are not actually sober.

Not Sober?

(Caution: These are not my own, nor NewBridge Recovery’s, personal opinions, and the views presented here are gathered from various outside sources) In the strictest sense of the word, sobriety is the continued absence of any psychoactive drug usage. Now Buprenorphine or Suboxone is a narcotic drug, as recognized by the medical and health community. It is a controlled substance and has a “high risk for addiction and dependence”. To be more specific, it is a partial opioid agonist, which means it affects the brain in many of the same ways that other narcotic opioids like hydrocodone and heroin do.

Human figure made out of pills running in fear from a monster made of pills. The monster is symbolic of the epidemic of overmedication, addiction to pain medications and the stronghold of pharmaceutical companies. Commentary on doctors’ willingness to prescribe drugs even when not necessary. Could show breaking free from the addiction.

Medications Can Lead to Mental and Physical Dependency


Posted by on in Drug Addiction

There is often a fine line between treatment of addiction and exacerbation of addiction when legal pharmaceuticals intended to alleviate addiction in turn become abused by non-prescribed users. In the case of using opioids (medications to relieve pain such as legal pharmaceuticals Vicodin, OxyContin and hydrocodone, and also the illegal drug heroin) an ongoing use of it causes brain abnormalities to develop that restructure, or rewire, the brain to become dependent or addicted to opioid. Pharmaceuticals have been proven to be effective in treating brain abnormalities underlying addiction, but there is an ever-rising concern that these very medications invite new addictions thereby giving the effect of giving with one hand and taking away with the other, thus compromising the entire goal of treating addiction and potentially increasing the American drug epidemic.

Did you know that over three million Americans have been prescribed Suboxone (pharmaceutical name is buprenorphine) for the treatment of opioid addiction, including heroin. But in 2010 alone, approximately seven million Americans unlawfully used prescription medications for non-medical purposes. And while suboxone and methadone have achieved successful results such as diminishing withdrawal symptoms and lessening the cravings for drugs there are certain concerns for both. With suboxone one of the most compelling concerns surrounding opioid treatment is the manufacture of the opioids themselves which results in the availability of these drugs to the public. For instance, incidents of emergency room visits due to Suboxone complications rose tenfold from 2005 to 2010, with 3,161 and 30,135 hospital intakes respectively. And while research surveys show that Suboxone is rarely deadly, deaths resulting from methadone are alarmingly on the rise. From 1999 to 2005, methadone-poisoning deaths increased by 486 percent compared to a 66-percent increase in all deaths due to overall poisoning.

Highlighted by additional statistics and infographics, the article goes into great detail about the following:

- The difference between opiods, opiates and opium

- Safeguards that can be implemented to curb the dangers of Suboxone such as developing drug-testing apparatuses that are sensitive to Suboxone detection


Posted by on in Drug Addiction


Medication Assisted Treatment, or "MAT" for short, is the use of FDA approved medication for the treatment of opiate/opioid addiction and substance abuse.  It has never been quite as controversial a subject as it is today.  As more and more abstinence-based programs have become mainstream within inpatient treatment centers, the stigma being attached unnecessarily to MAT is discouraging to very high-risk drug addicts and those who have attempted treatment without medication several times and failed. 

When comunity-based groups such as AA began, there was no regulated MAT approved for widespread use in the US.  It was also back then in the 1930's that the medical community had not yet been able to establish that alcoholism or drug addiction was in fact a medical disease.  That fact came later and is now based in numerous evidence from research foundations & hospitals all over the country.

The fact that we all know addiction IS a disease now seems slightly hypocritical for those who still hold a strong personal bias against the use of MAT for addicts; instead refusing to acknowledge any route for treatment other than spirituality and willpower, solving the disease of addiction.  These efforts may help some people but the numbers clearly over time and especially now show that this is not the case for the majority. 

While ALL supporters and providers of MAT also encourge a multi-treatment approach, knowing medication alone is not the answer, there are those who ignore this and begin to spread a dangerous message to addicts who would benefit greatly from MAT methods, along with support groups, IOP's, individual therapy, group therapy, CBT, and other outpatient behavioral and support services.  The message being spread is almost always by those who have never used MAT or who have and did not follow proper protocol.  Very seldom do you hear positive aspects of MAT from people who were very successful using this method, as millions over several decades have. The danger is that someone who is bias against MAT, having been able to get clean and stay clean via abstinence is outspoken regarding the "negative" possibilities of MAT and almost never discuss or encourge the very positive aspects of MAT for the very severe addicts who need MAT to stabilize their physical dependance and then use that time on treatment to work on their behavioral addiction issues and dual diagnosis treatment such as depression or anxiety. 

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