Myths and Facts about Suboxone in Medication-Assisted Treatment

Suboxone is a combination of two medications, buprenorphine and naloxone, used to treat addiction to opioids (heroin, prescription painkillers, etc.). One of the most effective medications used in MAT (medication-assisted treatment), Suboxone, is a tablet or film placed under the tongue until it dissolves. It is designed to prevent cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Even though MAT is a proven, well-researched and FDA-approved method of addiction treatment, there is still controversy surrounding medications like Suboxone. Feeding into the debate, a lot of misinformation continues to surface about the use of Suboxone and similar medications. Let’s examine some of the myths and facts about Suboxone.

Myth: Suboxone use is just another drug to replace opioids

Facts: Suboxone is a carefully administered, scientifically tested medication prescribed by medical professionals to treat the chronic disease of addiction. Suboxone allows addicts to function normally while giving their brain and body time to heal.

Drug addiction is widely accepted now as a disease and chronic medical condition. If you have other chronic medical conditions, like diabetes or high blood pressure, it’s acceptable and necessary to treat them with medications. Why should the disease of addiction be different?

Myth: If you take Suboxone, you’re not in recovery

Facts: There is nothing in 12-step (Narcotics Anonymous, etc.) philosophy that prohibits prescription medications for addiction. If you define recovery as living a productive life in society without being addicted to substances, taking prescription medication to reach that goal doesn’t diminish your recovery. Suboxone helps regulate your brain chemistry because the disease of addiction has altered it.

Most people think of recovery from addiction involving a 12-step support group or residential drug rehab where you’re given counseling and therapy to help with addiction. But recovery can mean different things to different people. Whatever method leads you to your definition of recovery, whether it’s medical, psychological, or spiritual, cannot be dismissed.

Myth: Suboxone is likely to be abused by addicts

Facts: Any substance, prescription or otherwise, can be abused. Suboxone is in the opioid class, but it is designed to minimize the typical effects of opioids on the brain. When you’re an opioid addict, you continue to crave more powerful drugs, often resulting in death by overdose. Suboxone, on the other hand, reduces the desire for opioids.

Myth: Suboxone cures addiction

Facts: MAT with Suboxone or similar medications can be even more effective if used in conjunction with other addiction treatment methods like therapy, counseling, support groups, etc. But that doesn’t mean Suboxone isn’t effective if that is your only weapon in the battle against addiction.

Drug rehab, while effective for many people, can take time and money that some people don’t have. Maybe you have a job that wouldn’t accommodate rehab or family obligations that would make it difficult to be away for several weeks. Perhaps you don’t have insurance that would cover treatment. Maybe you’ve even been to rehab before, and you still struggle with long-term recovery.

Only about 10 percent of the estimated 21 million addicts in America have received treatment. While in an ideal situation, you would engage in multiple forms of addiction treatment, most of us do not live in an ideal world. Suboxone is a proven form of addiction treatment that can fit into any treatment plan or lifestyle.

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