Both Methadone and Suboxone are medications prescribed to those suffering from addictions to opioids or opiates such as heroin, morphine and codeine. Methadone being a synthetic opiate, prescribed in both pill and liquid form and Suboxone being one combining the opioid Buprenorphine and naloxone, an opiate analgesic used to block the often desired effects of opioids such as pain relief and euphoria. Suboxone comes in both pill and dissolvable strip form. Both have been responsible for helping patients break their dependency on opiates altogether and saving lives as well as have the potential to lead to abuse, dependency and death.
The biggest debate you will hear in any recovery based room or among those in a 12 step program is whether those who are prescribed Suboxone or Methadone are technically clean or sober. I have no interest in continuing or contributing to that debate. My interest is to spread awareness and to further explore and share both the pro’s and con’s of such. I will do my best to keep opinions to a minimum and instead base my points off of personal experience.
I’d like to start by saying I don’t judge a single opiate replacement patient. Taking Suboxone or Methadone is no doubt better than dying from a heroin overdose. The problem with opiate replacement programs are they’re exactly that, a replacement. Subbing one opiate out for the other. Putting down one bad habit and picking up another. There’s no freedom from dependency and I believe the most rewarding thing about sobriety and getting clean is that freedom. A freedom Doctors across America rob vulnerable patients of every day, for years at a time out of pure greed.
The amount of misleading information I found in doing research for this article was astounding. What I found to be even more abhorrent was the fact almost all of it was being provided by pharmaceutical companies and treatment facilities commonly referred to as clinics where patients are prescribed Methadone. That being because Google’s algorithm is no different then the one we are seeing in America’s healthcare system, meaning those who pay the most, get the most play.
Take your average healthcare provider who has been in medicine for over twenty years. The amount of medical breakthroughs made in the last twenty years have been nothing short of evolutionary and life changing. Yet too many physicians have entire medical practices and philosophies based off of information that is two decades old. Bad information learned out of textbooks written in the 1970’s in which they learned shortly there after.
In his book Unconventional Medicine, author Chris Kresser states the most common place Doctors and healthcare providers frequently receive their new information about new drugs and the illnesses they treat are from the drug companies themselves, which I found to be absolutely appalling. These drug companies often show up to healthcare facilities with gifts, vacation packages and pamphlets for the drug they incentivize physicians to prescribe. Pamphlets written by the companies themselves, filled with information from bias research studies conducted by none other then them. As it’s been said, few thing are more difficult than getting someone to understand something when their salary is dependent on them not understanding it.
I’ve talked to a fair amount of people I know about their experiences with both Methadone and Suboxone. Of all those I spoke to who have been prescribed to Methadone, many have shared experiences about their doctor recommending higher dosages as time went on. None of the people I talked to recalled their doctor ever bringing up conversations of them eventually being prescribed less or tapering off slowly until they’re dependency was eventually broken altogether.
I personally know people who have broken seemingly hopeless addictions to heroin and prescription pain pills using a single Suboxone in both it’s pill and strip form. Those I know who successfully broke their dependency on opiates using Suboxone did so by decreasing their dosage by fifty percent a day for a span of 4 or 5 days. Yet your average patient who is prescribed the drug in its strip form is prescribed the same dose day after day, month after month in an almost non finite fashion. Until a dependency on this drug is created, as opposed to the opiate it was prescribed to break the patient’s dependency from. Which begs the question, how could a drug intended to help manage opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings eventually cause withdrawal symptoms and cravings themselves? Withdrawal symptoms some have reported as being more severe from that of heroin itself. It seems to me the current system and approach is broken and was damaged by the greed of both Pharmaceutical companies and physicians.
Again to reiterate, I don’t blame patients I blame primarily the pharmaceutical companies and the doctors who pretend not to know better. The ones who over prescribe on purpose for profit. Profits they make from two minute visits where they are too busy writing out prescriptions to actually look patients in the eye and talk to them or make honest and unbiased observations. That is also not to absolve patients completely, many have a much clearer reality of the drugs than even the Doctors who prescribe them because they live those realities day in and day out. Plenty of Doctors across America are deceived by patients who intend to abuse or sell these drugs on the street but the real deception starts at the top with the drug companies themselves.