Suboxone: Switching from one drug to another.

Jaywalker Lodge

Jaywalker Lodge

“Suboxone does get us on the road to recovery, but don’t confuse the the on-ramp with the destination.”

~ Bob FergusonFounder/Director, Jaywalker Lodge, Carbondale, CO

“Say what you will, the truth is that people, LOTS OF PEOPLE
—millions have quit all alcohol and drug use.
Methadone and suboxone users are users.”

~ Joe Herzanek
President, Changing Lives Foundation
Author, Why Don’t They Just Quit?

Quite a heated discussion regarding the article
Roxane Labs Generic Suboxone Hits the Market


Read all the comments below.
To follow the original discussion, click here on “Dad on Fire” blog

November 6, 2009 at 3:59 pm
It seems to me that way to many have bought into the idea that some people just won’t/can’t quit. Sad. Switching from one drug to another. At least now they can be strung out on a legal drug. Harm reduction is a joke. I’m sure the pharmaceutical companies are happy though.

November 6, 2009 at 6:06 pm
Point accepted. However, what is an affordable alternative? I would really like to know. I have watched a lot of young opiate addicts trip over recovery and rehab for years–over and over again. My own son; one of them. Even residential rehab wasn’t the answer to many. Initially, the intense withdrawals stops most of them from continuing–so comes replacement drug therapy. The big Pharmas do profit off it. That’s another issue. If an addict accepts suboxone or methadone for that matter without trying to use street opiates, they can regain much of what they lost physically and mentally and when stable, they can wean off of either of these. The problem with weaning off of suboxone is the issue of micro-dosing. Its a powerful drug. 1 mg is equal to 20-30 mgs. of methadone. Micro doses and time release implants are available in Europe just for that purpose; not here yet. Methadone is easier to wean off in that respect. the problems is timing. Being a craving addict doesn’t go away that soon enough–and then there is Methamphetamine of which physical and mental restoration is even more questionable. I think residential rehab is a better answer for that.

November 6, 2009 at 5:51 pm
I think this is good news. I am curious if Joe from the above comment has overcome heroin addiction. Suboxone DOES help addicts get off opiates. It may be addicting but it does NOT get you high, it does not ruin your life, it does not land you in jail or the grave. Therefore, its somewhat of a miracle drug. My insurance company covered it and we got it at a reasonable cost. I am all for it.

November 6, 2009 at 6:44 pm
This is a really important discussion. I’m glad you brought it up. Suboxone and methadone are both controversial. But then again, so is rehab. I have known numerous families who have spent thousands of dollars (sometimes their child’s college fund) for one rehab after another and no lasting results. As parents we would do just about anything to help our children overcome their addiction problems, but in reality there’s not much we can do. I think Suboxone is one option, but my son ended up selling his doses to pay for heroin. Bottom line is they have to want to stop. Jail seems to be working for my son, he’s got 76 days clean now. The fear is when he gets out. There is NO easy answer.

November 6, 2009 at 6:58 pm

As one recent story contributor put it “it is love and love alone that will help you and your family thru this nightmare. Tough love mostly.” I would add everything the experts can offer, sheer human will and a more compassionate world of recovery. Some 22 million drug addicts and alcoholics can’t be wrong. No easy answers is right. Someone I love dearly who fought opiate addiction for a decade and a half views jail as a rescue. I still want to see drug policy reform as part of a growing nation of compassion, acceptance and recovery.

November 6, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Wow, seems like a bit of a hornet’s nest. I spent sixteen years lost in addiction to alcohol and drugs. Heroin and opiate pain meds were some of my favorites. I now have a few decades of total abstinence. Say what you will, the truth is that people, LOTS OF PEOPLE, millions have quit all alcohol and drug use. Methadone and suboxone users are users. They have just switched to legal dope. They have convinced you that they are unique and they just can’t quit. Which is a bunch of crap from a bunch of cry babies.
Regards, Joe

November 7, 2009 at 8:30 am
I have to agree with Joe, millions of folks have recovered, myself included. Barbara, I also see the value of suboxone as a detox protocol–it’s a safe and effective bridge from active opiate use to chemical abstinence. But too many times, the addict and their caregivers get stuck on that bridge. Reducing the damage and consequences of active addiction through harm reduction is an intoxicating notion for weary addicts and their families. Often i have seen cases where active opiate addicts on the road to ruin will “behave themselves” once they start on suboxone. Harm reduction in that sense is effective, insofar as it goes. Many treatment providers LOVE this drug because it makes disruptive patients act compliant. But make no mistake, harm reduction + compliance does NOT equal sobriety. These folks are NOT sober–the pupils are pinned, they have a flat personal affect, and reaction times are off by at least a beat or two. What’s worse, they have switched from an unacceptable chemical dependence to a more socially acceptable drug dependence, and deep down, they know that. This stunts their self-esteem and blocks them from the freedom they are seeking. Sobriety is an onerous, difficult deal and involves a commitment to change and usually, some level of personal and physical discomfort. The notion that you can make lasting and profound personal change without experiencing any personal discomfort or sacrifice whatsoever–that is what the drug companies and their representatives are selling. It’s an intriguing, intoxicating notion, isn’t it? Suboxone does get us on the road to recovery, but don’t confuse the the on-ramp with the destination. The real work begins when patients and their doctors summon the courage to go from “less”chemicals to no chemicals.
Bob Ferguson

November 7, 2009 at 10:36 am
I may have been a bit harsh in my last comment. I tend to do that at times. Using suboxone for a brief period during detox can be helpful. Beyond that and the person has simply decided to use the drug rather than find another coping skill. Talk therapy is the key ingredient in long term total abstinence. 12 Step programs are the best place to turn for this long term help.

November 7, 2009 at 10:49 am
Joe, Thanks for your comments. I mean that sincerely. For me, what former addicts have to say on these subjects is very valuable because you are the only ones who actually know, first hand, what its like. The rest of us are striving to understand and willing to do just about anything we can to help our loved one, but what we learn over and over is that the addict has to be ready, they have to do it themselves. I hear that 12 Step is the way to go and am praying that my 18 y.o. will open his mind to it when he gets in rehab. You give me hope that anyone can do it – when they are ready. A lot of us just pray that our loved ones are ready sooner than later because we feel helpless as we watch them waste precious years. Thanks again.

November 7, 2009 at 11:13 am
Thank you for your kind words Barbara. I didn’t start this yesterday for any other reason than it just makes me mad that SOME, not all, rehab places want to just put people on another drug to FIX their current drug problem. I also didn’t start this to sell books but having said that I am an author and have written a very helpful book on this topic. If you are interested in looking at it just google my name from the first comment.
Regards, Joe

November 10, 2009 at 11:13 am
I was really excited reading the posts. Especially from Bob–one of the best I’ve read in a long time. Gotta admit though I lost that excitement when I clicked on a suboxone link that brought me to a site sponsored by Reckitt.

November 10, 2009 at 11:13 am
Jay–I encourage you to stay linked with this site. Appreciate your comments a lot. We don’t support Reckitt’s recent actions, as their interest is to sustain profit from a drug (suboxone) that was developed to bridge addiction to recovery and has an expired patent. I say that because they are fighting generic status. We also do not typically support the long term use of drug replacement therapy. Both Suboxone and Methadone are difficult enough for an addict to manage initially. A lot to say about that later. These drugs usefulness is the bridge they provide to an ultimate full and sober recovery. I have to defer to Joe’s comments above for a good description of what they really are in a lot of cases. Legal replacement drugs have their “place”. If it stops an addict on a dangerous steep downhill slope, or pulls him or her out of an abyss; its difficult for addiction doctors in the therapy community to discount their use.

November 10, 2009 at 11:13 am
Great follow-up dad. Nothing wrong with a little help to get started in recovery. Then the real answer can begin, which in my opinion is talk therapy. This applies to more than substance dependent people. Almost anyone can benefit from a mentor of some kind.

* Have you “tried everything?” To learn about affordable phone counseling with Joe Herzanek  click here.


Suboxone addiction quit suboxone  Suboxone addiction quit suboxone  Suboxone addiction quit suboxone


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5 thoughts on “Suboxone: Switching from one drug to another.

  1. Roger M

    The program director at the treatment center I went to in 2005 followed what T. Kinsey suggested. First, they detoxed me and then they taught me how to work the program. When I left 90 days later, I discovered that I also needed to do what Just Another Fellow suggested. I moved from my home town to the town where I had gone through rehab, and began working the program of AA again. Today, I have been off heroin, morphine sulphate, Demerol, and hydrocodone, as well as alcohol, pot, meth and crack cocaine for 3 1/2 years. Today, a little aspirin or tylenol combined with a lot of steps 10-12 allows me to live a very good life, especially considering the hell I lived in for years.

  2. Joe

    Thanks for the comment Tammy. To say that Suboxone and Methadone are controversial is the understatement of the century.

    I’ve discussed these two drugs with numerous clients, clinicians and MD’s. So, after all the research it seems to me that it is just switching to a different type of opiate drug. Is that always a bad thing? I can’t be the judge on that. It wouldn’t work for me.

    The whole notion that pharmaceutical companies have created a pill to ‘fix’ addicts says some people are SO UNIQUE they just can’t quit. Sorry but I’m not on board with that. Many addicts have convinced their care givers that they fall into this unique group :>((

    My personal opinion, and what I’ve seen over the last three decades, is that total abstinence is possible for even the most dire and desperate cases. I’m not a fan of harm reduction. I have personally detoxed twice off of opiates, heroin and Oxycontin. Both times were hell. But what I found was that after a few weeks (or so) things got better. After a few months things got much better.

    So I do not want to start a firestorm of pro and con about harm reduction, but simply giving you one recovering addicts opinion.

    Keep up your good work. Best, Joe

  3. Just another fellow

    My opinion on opiate addiction is this: I used opiates for almost seven years, I’ve tried Suboxone, methadone, rehab and everything in between. The only true way to get off opiates is to move away from where your from, where access to the drug is an ease. When you move away you have no options or thoughts of getting heroin/pain meds because you won’t know where to get them. I’ve been clean for Six years now.

  4. Kat Fasano-Nicotera

    Ive been reading everyones comments & I felt compelled to share a little of my experience.
    I was on methadone for 14 years, the first 7 were spent giving this medication the bad reputation some of you have talked about. I used it so I wouldnt be strung out since I continued to foolishly use heroin while on methadone. I too had to forgive myself for selling my bottles for money to use.
    Im here hoping to right that irresponsible wrong. However the last 7 years were spent seriously committed to my process of healing. (For me) I had burned thru every agency & facility offering me help w/o medical insurance & when I had finally surrendered & was below bottomed out, I understandably had no where to turn….accept for the city methadone clinic.
    I utilized every group, meeting, one on one intense therapy, pumped every woman in recovery on the clinic about what I could do to radically & spiritually change my life as well.
    When I was well into rebuilding my life in every aspect & was supported in my strong foundation, I made the decision to begin my very slow taper & detoxed successfully.
    My detox took about a year, the last month was painful. I am a middle aged woman who didnt have the luxury of aging without either an opiate or methadone medication during menopause…so I wasnt just feeling the effects of detox but I felt incredible physical muscle & joint pain..even my hair hurt. I suffered with insomnia for months.
    However everyone’s different in the detoxing process. My husband who had been medicated for as long as I had, experienced only a week or two of anxiety & some mild insomnia, not anything close to the leg spasms, nervousness, or debilitating fatigue that I had for at least 4 months.
    My desire & passion to live a medication free life was stronger than any long term symptpms of detox.
    Ive been medication free for several years today & volunteer at that same cliinic that helped save my life, my husbands & restore my family.
    I believe its a small way to give back some of the damage Id caused and to help inspire some of the patients who were curiuos about tapering themselves. The group I facilitate is called “Life Beyond Methadone”
    And there is whether you happen to be a patient or have detoxed,, the message in the group is to live life & recover. Medication is only a small “tool” of successful recovery.

    See… most of us dont hear about the successful alumni from any clinics because theyre off busy following their dreams so we “think” theyre out using again…I happen to know so many methadone free graduates.

    Im privilidged to be a regular contributing writer for a Recovery Journal “Recovering The Self” and as I shared in an article devoted to this very topic…although methadone may not be “your” choice or path, it may be the only one someone else has…for hope, for life…

    I am honored to share that Im also one of the 20 people who shared their story in Barbra Sinors book Tales of Addiction, & I wrote that story while in the process of detoxing from methadone. When I put public voice to my desire to detox…well the rest is history. Barbara taught me to never judge someone elses path…but to respect their journey. She is a constant reminder that it really isnt about the destination at all, but truely about the journey!
    I thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts.
    Kat Fasano-Nicotera

  5. T Kinsey

    Very controversial topic (suboxone, subutex, and methadone). I currently am an addiction counselor in a methadone/suboxone clinic. I see some of the problems you are discussing. Some patients come into the clinic just wanting to substitute the high; however, others are at the end of their rope, and cannot fight the addiction to opiates/heroin. Then some want the methadone because they do not trust their addiction without it. They refer to taking methadone as a precaution. They do know if they do any other opiates it will not have a high effect on them because of the opiate blocker in methadone/suboxone. However, the others are just doctor shopping for more medication. I work with some patients who honestly want to recovery and work the program, and do successfully detox from all methadone/suboxone. I honestly believe for some the withdrawal symptoms are to powerful for them to do alone, and need detox treatments. I have seen some patients in active withdrawal lay on the floor in a fetal position from the withdrawal. At this point they are not going to sit in a 12 step program because they are just too sick. Detox these patients first, and then work the program with them when they have a clear head. I do know one thing for sure; my husband has had addiction problems since he was 12. Opiate addiction affected him during his last days of actively using. I have never in my life with him seen such withdrawal symptoms as with opiates. Opiates are a powerful hold on addicts, and not easily overcome. I do believe opiate users need detox first, then a successful recovery program. In addition, even with intensive outpatient/inpatient support some addicts never recovery. Our bodies produce natural opioids , and with active addiction to opiate use over a long period, our own receptors stop producing opioids and the cells die never to replaced naturally. These natural substances are involved in the body’s control of pain reactions. Not sure what kind of future these patients will have without some kind of substitute for the opioid dysfunction. Like I said before very controversial subject.

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