Category Archives: Suboxone

Why Methadone Is Effective

methadone-researchMany opioid addicted individuals eventually become interested in methadone after hearing others speak of its effectiveness in eliminating opiate withdrawal sickness.

Methadone has been in use for well over 40 years as a leading treatment for opioid addiction. There are now hundreds of methadone clinics in operation across the U.S. The popularity of methadone as an addiction treatment rests in its proven benefit in completely removing withdrawal symptoms and in methadone’s uniquely long half life.

Heroin and most prescription opiates have a quick onset, short duration. In other words, you feel the effect quickly but the effect does not last long. Methadone is designed to remain in an individual’s system for a prolonged period of time thus keeping withdrawal symptoms at bay for a full day or longer.

Someone who is opioid tolerant and adjusted to their daily methadone medication will experience no high whatsoever from the medication. It will not interfere with their daily responsibilities, work, family, or other obligations. Often, families wonder what effect methadone will have on their loved one. Most family members are surprised to see their loved one return to being functional again and able to live a normal daily life.

Methadone is a full opioid agonist and binds very well to the body’s mu opioid receptors. This action causes withdrawal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, chills,  diarrhea, and runny nose to disappear. Once these symptoms are removed, the addicted person can finally resume a full life and refocus themselves on important personal goals.

While the news media have frequently focused on addiction tragedies, the real stories are those in which countless people’s lives have been saved by methadone. In the North Carolina clinic where I have been employed, I have seen enormous numbers of individuals re-engage with their family, their career, their academic pursuits, home ownership, and a rewarding way of life.

There is a considerable amount of misinformation and fear-mongering that goes on around the topic of tapering off of methadone. It is important to emphasize that  a patient is physically dependent upon the methadone and must take the medication regularly to avoid opioid withdrawal. However, individuals taper off of methadone successfully everyday in programs across the country. Managing your anxiety during the taper process is important because this helps you stay focused and rational as you slowly reduce your methadone dosage.

The key to tapering successfully is to do so gradually and in cooperation with your prescribing physician and methadone clinic medical team. Some people may try to taper off of methadone too quickly and will consequently begin to feel their withdrawal symptoms begin to return. This is most often avoided by simply proceeding slowly with a methadone taper.

Massachusetts Is Prohibited From Banning Zohydro

court-decisionSomewhat of a surprise was the recent ruling that the state of Massachusetts cannot ban the powerful new painkiller, Zohydro, from being prescribed in the state. The manufacturer of Zohydro, Zogenix, had argued that the ban was not constitutional and must be reversed.

The state governor, Deval Patrick, had announced his intention to make Zohydro unavailable since the manufacturer’s initial plan was to provide it without a tamper-proof component to deter abuse and potential overdose.

Judge Rya Zobel ruled that the state of Massachusetts had exceeded its authority in banning the drug, and she consequently implemented a preliminary injunction temporarily reversing the ban. The governor expressed disappointment that the public’s safety concerns were not sufficient to halt the sale of Zohydro, but he stated he would pursue other channels for addressing the widespread opioid abuse problem that is continuing to grow in the state and across the country.

Opioid pain medications have become a primary drug of abuse for a number of age groups. Deaths by opioid overdose now surpass deaths by homicide and motor vehicle accidents in numerous states.

While Zohydro may be an effective pain management medication, it will very likely be sought (and purchased illegally) by those with severe opioid addictions trying to avoid daily opioid withdrawal sickness. Sadly, overdose deaths will result from the use of this medication in similar fashion to the problems that surfaced when oxycontin hit the market. Please keep yourself informed, and if you are suffering with opioid addiction and withdrawal sickness, seek treatment immediately. There is opioid detox, methadone medication assistance, and private physicians using suboxone to help patients cope with their addiction.

Recovery From Heroin Addiction Helps Parenting

methadone-clinic-7When a parent enters treatment for opioid addiction and begins methadone dosing, hopefully that person embraces the recovery process and the resumption of certain responsibilities that may have been neglected during addiction.

Many parents in addiction live with a sense of regret and shame over not always being there for their children. Opiate addiction is particularly brutal and can derail a person’s priorities for extended periods of time. Families can suffer, and their bonds strained to the limit for years because of drug addiction.

When a parent begins to find true recovery and is able to take an honest look at their life, they recognize how their mistakes affected others – most often their families and particularly their children.

Effective parenting requires a notable combination of talents & abilities – obviously love mixed with patience, availability, consistency, and attention. These qualities suffer and are diminished for a majority of addicted parents when drugs are in control. As the years roll on while a parent remains in active addiction, their children may develop behavior problems, experience depression or rage, or feel lonely or abandoned. Facing this damage can be very hard for a parent in early recovery. Trying to resume the role of an “active parent” may not be well-received once the kids have endured on their own without supervision or proper care.

Rebuilding trust and good communication will take time. As a parent in recovery, it will require a new commitment from you to your children (and family) to be there when you can and to be honest and genuine. Addicted people have often broken multiple promises to those they love. Family who were lied to or repeatedly disappointed will be in a cautious, protective mode for a long time – perhaps hopeful that Dad is really going to stay sober, yet fearful he will return to drugs and restart the painful cycle all over again.

If you are a parent in recovery, you should have your own support group who can help to nurture you through the transitions and stresses of getting clean & sober and learning to deal with past damage. The path of recovery obviously involves a strong commitment to sober living. Good intentions are important, but real follow-through and demonstrated effort are much more important. It’s not enough to talk-the-talk. You must walk-the-walk if you are to truly succeed in achieving a sober life and recapturing the trust of those who were harmed or neglected.

The good news is that families, and children, often have a remarkable sense of love and willingness to forgive when they see that you are real about your recovery. Recovery changes people from the inside out. It returns people to a better form, and in some instances makes them better than they ever were. These positive changes in attitude, behavior, and lifestyle are visible to others. When they see the real you, the better you – that has evolved during the recovery process – the love, trust, and communication often return and may actually surpass what they once were.

It is important to do the work of recovery and to recognize that you must work on yourself. This is the basis for leaving the past in the past, and moving forward to a better future.

For More On Becoming a Client in a Methadone Program

Opiate Abuse Epidemic Addressed by Massachusetts Governor

massachusettsThe State of Massachusetts is experiencing dramatic levels of opioid abuse and their Governor, Deval Patrick, is sharply focused on addressing the problem. A compelling Boston Globe article has highlighted the growing problem with heroin and other opiates across the state noting that 185 people died of heron overdose between November 2013 and February 2014.

Also mentioned in the article was the state’s plan to increase funding for drug treatment by $20 million and to prohibit the sale of Zohydro, a highly potent prescription painkiller that has drawn much attention and criticism due to its ability to potentially worsen the opioid epidemic in America.

Governor Patrick has declared the opioid abuse problem a public health emergency and is taking active measures to increase the availability of naloxone to Massachusetts public workers so that they can intervene to save the lives of those experiencing an opiate overdose. Naloxone is a powerful opioid antagonist that reverses the effects of opioid overdose within minutes. Numerous overdose victims have been saved in recent years as a result of medical personnel or bystanders having access to naloxone.

The state also intends to crack down on the over prescription of pain medication and will be requiring physicians and pharmacies to participate in the prescription monitoring program. Participation was previously only voluntary, but will now be mandatory. Prescription monitoring reduces the prevalence of “doctor shopping” and also the diversion of prescription medications to the street where they are resold at a premium.

While naloxone can save lives by reversing the effects of opioid overdose, methadone also saves lives by removing the desperate daily struggle to avoid opioid withdrawal. This daily struggle often leads to premature death or long term incarceration. Suboxone (buprenorphine) provides the same medication-assisted support which allows those lost in addiction the ability to stabilize and move forward again. It is important to emphasize that medication-assisted treatment should always incorporate long term counseling and recovery-building since addiction is not just a physical dependency problem. The psychological component of addiction is what is addressed through counseling and therapy.

Doctors and Prescriptions For Pain Medication

oxycodone-prescriptionReceiving increased attention across the country are concerns about prescription pain medication and to what extent prescribers are using caution and due diligence in administering them.

In addition to opioid addiction treatment centers that often employ methadone, pain management clinics also utilize methadone as well as other beneficial but potentially addictive opioid medications such as hydrocodone for breakthrough pain. Often, in addition to painkiller prescriptions, pain management physicians will prescribe powerful benzodiazepines like Xanax and Klonopin to manage patients’ stress and anxiety symptoms.

The potential problems which can emerge from these medication combinations is fairly extensive. First, uninformed patients can develop a rapid physical dependency on pain meds if not properly educated. Patients also run the risk of accidental overdose when combining powerful drugs like methadone, oxycodone, and xanax. There is a serious risk to the community when a physician overprescribes because powerful pain medications and benzodiazepines have a premium “street value”, and are often diverted and sold to naive, inexperienced users who can easily overdose and die.

A recent article in DrugFree.org cited several State congressional bills being considered which would require physicians treating pain management to receive special education in the prescribing of opioid medication. Pain management clinics have been identified in the last few years as a major source of diverted opiate medications making their way to the black market. The article points to two states, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, that have set-up task forces to explore methods for reducing their states’ presciption drug abuse problems.

For recovering people, pain is a real life circumstance which should be dealt with humanely and sensitively without judgment. From child birth to surgery to cancer treatment, anyone can experience debilitating pain. Managing that pain may require strong medication that carries some risks. While every adult bears obvious responsibility for knowing what they put into their body, it makes sense that doctors would undergo specialized training in regard to the use of opioids to treat pain. This not only provides the physicians themselves with a reduced liability risk, but helps to increase the chances that those receiving strong medication are more thoroughly educated on the benefits and important cautions around use of prescription painkillers.

For information on suboxone-approved physicians, read: Suboxone Doctors

When Emotional Pain Fuels Relapse

grief-and-lossPeople in recovery from addiction face very substantial stresses. The stress of trying to cope with cravings & urges, the stress of facing life and trying to resolve problems, and the common pressure of trying to make ends meet when finances are not in good shape.

While many addicted individuals find that they are more resilient than perhaps they ever believed, loss can sometimes be a particularly crippling experience. People from all walks of life suffer and struggle with losses – divorce, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, income, security, or health.

A recent New York Times article briefly profiled a young woman released from prison who was trying to stay clean from heroin. She really missed her child who had been removed from her custody. While she loved her baby, she also recognized she was not yet ready to resume the pressures and responsibilities of parenting until she got herself on more solid, sober ground.

With the death of a loved one, the feelings run so deep that coping is sometimes beyond one’s inner resources. Grief has a way of overwhelming the senses and the heart such that making rational choices is much harder than would normally be the case. In extreme emotional situations, thoughts can become paralyzed and feelings intensified. Such a combination can make sobriety incredibly challenging.

Emotional pain is part of life. We have all felt it. Recovery teaches many principles that help to make life more manageable and which can help a person to hold on, to survive the lows of life. And for those that slip, life must go on. All is not lost. In 12 step meetings, they say “keep coming back”. In treatment, they say, “don’t give up”. While these may sound like annoying platitudes, they are generally true and correct sentiments that are there to remind us that pain subsides, and the human heart can find a way to survive and to be happy again.

How this happens varies greatly from one person to another. Support from others can make a huge difference. Prayer and connection with the proverbial higher power can make a difference. We are connected (or can be connected) to good people and good things if we try to open ourselves to them. It is not always easy when we are hurting. Therapy and counseling sometimes point us to answers that we didn’t know even existed. Spiritual support can achieve this as well. Whatever life brings us, good or bad, happy or sad, hopefully we can pause for a few moments to reflect on the small blessings that so often go overlooked and underappreciated.

The message for today is to remember that you are worth it! It can get better. Recovery is always here for you.