If you are addicted, medication allows you to regain a normal state of mind, free of drug-induced highs and lows. It frees you from thinking all the time about the drug. It can reduce problems of withdrawal and craving. These changes can give you the chance you need to focus on the lifestyle changes that lead back to healthy living.
Taking medication for opioid addiction is like taking medication to control heart disease or diabetes. It is NOT the same as substituting one addictive drug for another. Used properly, the medication does NOT create a new addiction. It helps you manage your addiction so that the benefits of recovery can be maintained.
Buprenorphine is a medication used to treat opioid addiction.
Buprenorphine is one of three medications commonly used to treat opioid addiction. The other two are methadone and naltrexone. This is the primary medication we use in our medication-assisted outpatient treatment program.
The person who takes buprenorphine feels normal, not high. However, the brain thinks it is receiving the problem opioid, so withdrawal symptoms stay away. Buprenorphine also reduces cravings. If cravings continue to be a problem, your doctor will adjust your medication or help you find other ways to reduce them.
You take buprenorphine as a pill that dissolves under the tongue. You do NOT chew or swallow it. There are two forms. Suboxone® contains buprenorphine plus another medication called naloxone. The naloxone is added to prevent abuse—it brings on withdrawal in people who abuse buprenorphine by injecting it. Subutex® contains only buprenorphine. This form is prescribed if you should not take naloxone for any reason, such as if you are allergic to it or are pregnant.
The pill is taken once a day. Over time, we will adjust the dose to optimize its benefit for you during your recovery.
The decision to begin to taper your doses to slowly discontinue buprenorphine over time is one that we make using a variety of metrics and clinical experience that we feel sets us apart from many other treatment facilities. There is no "one-size fits all" treatment plan. Your personalized treatment plan should be developed based on scientific evidence - not personal philosophy or bias.