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If you are addicted to or dependent on an opiate type drug, Suboxone therapy will most likely be useful. It makes no difference whether you obtain your opiate from a doctor or pharmacy or buy it on the street. As long as the substance you are dependent on is a mu agonist analgesic (pain reliever), then Suboxone® therapy will likely be useful for you. The list of such drugs is long. The most common ones are Vicodin® and Lorcet® (hydrocodone), Oxycontin®, oxycodone, morphine, Dilaudid, and heroin.
If you are, you probably already know it. However, you may not be completely honest about admitting it, either with yourself or primarily with others. This should come as no surprise since addiction of any sort is at the least socially unacceptable. At worst, it’s the cause of many social, occupational, and legal problems. With that being said, there are many questionnaires, scales, and published criteria that purport to screen for or diagnose addiction. In short, if you require more of your drug of choice to get high or even simply to function, you are probably addicted (this is called tolerance). If you spend inordinate amounts of time or money in procuring (buying from the street, doctor shopping, visiting multiple pharmacies), and indulging in your opiate habit, you are most certainly addicted. Is Suboxone® effective for treating addiction or dependence on non-opiate drugs, such as methamphetamines, alcohol, “ecstasy,” or marijuana? Unfortunately not. Suboxone® is specifically designed to treat opiate dependence and is not effective with other classes of addictive medication.
The good news is virtually overnight. Suboxone®, following a short period known as induction, can make you feel like a newborn baby, freeing you of an expensive and very risky habit.
Induction is the process whereby you discontinue your opiate of choice and deliberately put yourself into a state of opiate withdrawal. If you are dependent on opiates, you are probably well familiar with this state, commonly known as “cold turkey.” However, after you have been evaluated for Suboxone® treatment, you will only have to endure this state of withdrawal for a matter of hours, after which you will take one or more Suboxone® tablets that will literally “rescue” you from this acute abstinence syndrome. Following this, you will take Suboxone® once or twice a day. This will prevent recurrence of the cold turkey syndrome, eliminate any drug cravings, and, in short, release you from your opiate addiction prison.
This is probably one of the most challenging questions to answer since there is so much variability among patients. Studies show that long term treatment is associated with a lower relapse rate than short term treatment. Because of the cost of the drug itself, many people wish to minimize the length of time they take it and be successfully weaned within months. The tradeoff is a higher risk of relapse. Others have learned the hard way that they essentially need indefinite maintenance therapy with relatively low doses of Suboxone®.
Only if you tell them, while Suboxone® stimulates the mu receptors that cause addiction, it is not associated with an intoxication syndrome. That means that nobody, not even a medical expert, can tell you are taking Suboxone® except by performing a very specialized drug screen. In short, you can work, interact socially, drive, and function normally while taking Suboxone®.
As a rule, no. Only highly specialized screens that are designed to detect Suboxone will pick it up. These are generally not included in routine drug screens. And even if they were, no action could be taken because you are taking it legally under a licensed physician's prescription.
Dr. Woren will be happy to answer your questions personally during your free initial telephone consultation. Call anytime at (818) 613-5357