Suboxone and methadone are the two leading medications available for the treatment of opioid addiction. They are both opioid replacement therapies that, when taken regularly, will prevent an individual from experiencing opioid withdrawal sickness. Suboxone was approved by the FDA in 2002, and this allowed local physicians to begin prescribing Suboxone from their offices to opioid addicted patients seeking help.

This was a landmark achievement in consumer choice and provided people another very useful option for dealing with opioid addiction. To treat a patient with suboxone, a physician must first complete a comprehensive course, and become approved, before being allowed to prescribe the medication.

Since opioid replacement medication by itself addresses only the underlying physiological dependence (but not the related psychological contributors to addiction), patients are required to obtain substance abuse counseling as a part of their suboxone treatment. This additional requirement helps to ensure that patients are receiving education & training in understanding their addiction, and in identifying methods for preventing opioid relapse in the future.

Many suboxone-approved physicians do not provide this supplemental addiction counseling, and will consequently refer their suboxone patients to local providers who offer drug treatment services.

While suboxone and methadone are similar in action, they are unique enough to offer distinctly different advantages. You can review our comparison chart to examine some of the differences between the two medications. Both methadone and suboxone are slow acting, long lasting opioid agonists that bind to the body's opiate receptors. This particular action eliminates opioid withdrawal sickness very effectively, and thus allows individuals to resume their daily lives. 

Suboxone is actually a branded medication & product of the pharmaceutical company, Reckitt Benckiser. Suboxone is currently available as a thin film that is held under the tongue until the medication dissolves. Once dissolved, the medication is naturally absorbed through the tissues under the tongue and into the bloodstream. The newer film formulation dissolves somewhat more quickly than the previously available tablet form.

Suboxone is generally taken once per day although some patients with a milder opioid dependency may be able to take the medication every other day and remain comfortable. Suboxone does not produce a drug high for tolerant users, and does not interfere with one's daily activities. Many patients report feeling very comfortable while being maintained on suboxone and also during their gradual taper off of the medication.


What is in Suboxone?

Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine (an opioid agonist) is the ingredient that binds to opiate receptors and provides relief by blocking withdrawal symptoms (very similar to methadone). Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that reverses the effects of opiates and will cause withdrawal. This seems like a strange paradox having both ingredients in one tablet. However, do not worry. Remember, Suboxone is dissolved and absorbed under the tongue. The antagonist, Naloxone, becomes inert (has no effect) when dissolved under the tongue. So one only experiences the benefit of the Buprenorphine.


Why is Naloxone Added to Suboxone?

Specifically to discourage & prevent injection use of suboxone. Some addicted individuals may try to inject suboxone to obtain a drug high. When they do so, the Naloxone becomes immediately active (since it's being injected directly into the bloodstream), and it brings on sudden withdrawal symptoms making the individual feel very sick. This reinforces a person for using suboxone the proper way (under the tongue), and prevents future attempts at injecting suboxone.


How Do I Know if Suboxone is Right For Me?

This is a great question although a little difficult to answer. Suboxone tends to be effective for a considerable number of people addicted to opioids. Many of those who do well with suboxone are people who have a relatively shorter duration of opioid addiction or whose addiction is based on a comparatively smaller amount of daily opioid use. Heavy opioid users with a longer history of addiction sometimes respond better to methadone. However, there are notable exceptions. 

Suboxone has a ceiling effect around 24-32 mg of medication daily. 32 mg is generally considered to be the dose at which maximum withdrawal relief is provided. For most addicted people, taking more than 24-32 mg of suboxone daily will not provide any more additional relief. Methadone has no such ceiling effect and its dosage levels can be raised much higher, consequently providing a greater level of comfort and symptom relief for more severe opioid dependencies.

In conclusion, 8 mg to 32 mg of suboxone may provide excellent relief for someone new to medication-assisted recovery. If they find that suboxone is not strong enough to manage their withdrawal symptoms, then methadone most certainly will since it has no "ceiling effect".


Suboxone Taper Programs and Suboxone Maintenance

Taper programs aim to stabilize an opioid addicted individual on suboxone for a brief period of time and then taper their dosage down over a 60 to 90 day period. This taper period is not set in stone and can vary depending on the individual's need. The primary goal is to stabilize with suboxone and to then taper off with the end result being complete freedom from opioids and opioid replacement medication. Some patients do very well with a scheduled taper. Other patients may find that tapering is problematic and will switch to a period of maintenance. Maintenance with suboxone is effective and safe, just like with methadone. Upon first entering the market, Suboxone was mostly used for tapering off of opioids. However, it is commonly used today for extended maintenance in similar fashion to methadone.

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CVS Standing For Life and Safety

methadone-recovery-1It was announced late last month that CVS Drugstores intends to expand their provision of non-prescription naloxone into 12 additional U.S. States. Currently, they provide naloxone over-the-counter in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, but will begin offering the life-saving medication in California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Arkansas, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.

Naloxone has gained attention in recent years due to its ability to reverse opioid overdoses. Over 44,000 people have died annually in the United States from drug overdose with a majority of those stemming from heroin or prescription pain medication. Naloxone has been successfully utilized in emergency rooms and on site in communities around the country reversing opioid overdose and saving thousands of lives.

It is critically important to recognize that people who have suffered with addiction are sometimes close to a lasting recovery. There is a popular expression used lately that is somewhat stark though true and thought-provoking. The expression goes “You can’t recovery if you’re dead.” While this may sound off-putting to some, it reminds us that people stuck in years of painful addiction can, and do, change. We would much rather have naloxone readily available to save a life and to provide a son, daughter, or friend the opportunity to change direction.

An addicted individual could be much closer to choosing a life of recovery than we might imagine. This happens on a daily basis. How, and when, someone recovers from addiction is hard to predict. All we can do is to offer them an open door to a new and better life.

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Heroin Said To Be Back With A Vengeance

stop-opioid-addictionChuck Rosenberg, the new chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration, has expressed serious concerns about the continuing opioid addiction problem in America and the pervasive spread of heroin addiction in particular.

A Fox News article highlighted Mr. Rosenberg’s discussion of how the USA represents only 5% of the world’s population – but consumes 95% of the world’s hydrocodone. His position is that rampant overprescribing of opioids has been occurring for years. As individuals become addicted to prescription medications and are then cut off from further prescription refills, many turn to the illegal purchase of street opiates.

“Street” opiates are sold at a premium – often more than people can afford. This leads to increased crime in order to support the expensive habit or turning to heroin since it is reported to only cost about 20% of hydrocodone on the black market.

The Fox article states that nearly 44,000 per year are dying from drug overdose and that half of those overdoses are from prescription medications. Casualty rates have almost doubled over the last few years.

Also in the news last week was an announcement from Hillary Clinton that if elected President she plans to dedicate billions to opioid treatment. There are other candidates as well, including governor Chris Christie, that have expressed a similar commitment to addressing the opioid addiction epidemic. The groundswell of concern regarding opioid addiction has gained momentum over the past 2 years and is now an audible siren capturing the attention of many governmental leaders. It has become a real health hazard that cannot be ignored any longer.

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Making A New Start

methadone-graphicA study by the government agency SAMHSA indicated there were approximately 254,000 patients receiving methadone for opioid addiction in 2006. In 2015, it is most likely that number is much higher given the prevalence of opioid addiction and the continued expansion of outpatient opioid treatment services in the United States. Today, there are considerably more methadone clinics and suboxone-approved physicians than there were a decade ago.

Making a new start with medication-assisted treatment is what hundreds of people across the country are deciding to do for themselves every week. Addiction is a progressive illness – one in which a person’s ability to choose is severely compromised. Medication-assisted treatment using either methadone or buprenorphine (suboxone) provides an important open door to a more responsible, quality life.

A majority of individuals suffering with opioid addiction (particularly when the illness spans years) have experienced dramatic brain changes which deepened their physiological dependency on opiates. This physical dependency is not easily removed. It is severe and persistent thus leading the person to do whatever is necessary to avoid being sick from opioid withdrawal.

Most long-term addicted individuals will tell you they rarely, if ever, get high from the illicit substances they use. They are simply trying to avoid being sick from debilitating opioid withdrawal symptoms. When a patient chooses to receive methadone or buprenorphine under the supervision of a doctor, they are making a decision to face their illness and to do something constructive about it.

As a family or friend, it is very helpful to gain an understanding of addiction and how medication-assisted treatment can be life changing for a person stuck in the cycle of opiate addiction.

Making a new start can be a bit frightening. Will methadone work for me? Will my loved ones condemn me? What about my job, or my legal situation? It becomes easy to put off making a decision when so many questions come into play.

It is important to remember that the road to recovery begins with just one step forward. That step will lead to another and another. This new start is always available. The message is one of hope and opportunity. Opiate addiction is a treatable illness. Medication-assistance can make a real difference.

Posted in Addiction Treatment, Drug Treatment, Medication Assisted Treatment, Methadone, Methadone Clinics, Methadone Maintenance, Methadone Programs, Methadone Success, Methadone Treatment, Opiate Treatment, Recovery, Suboxone, Suboxone Doctors, Suboxone Physicians | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Making A New Start

Acadia Healthcare Opioid Treatment Programs

Acadia HealthcareAcadia is a large U.S. based company who provide a broad range of behavioral healthcare services that target mental health and substance abuse problems in children, teenagers, and adults.

Their inpatient facilities provide approximately 9200 beds in 37 states including the United States, United Kingdom, and Puerto Rico. The company’s outpatient addiction services specialize in opioid addiction and medication-assisted treatment for those suffering with heroin and other opioid dependencies. Each Acadia clinic utilizes methadone and suboxone in their overall treatment.

Acadia recently acquired CRC Health Group and in so doing raised their total number of opioid treatment programs to about 90 – currently making them the single largest provider in the United States.

Acadia just added 10 more clinics to Methadone.US and site visitors can find more information about Acadia’s Opioid Treatment Programs by visiting these recently added cities on the Methadone.US website:

Posted in Addiction Recovery, California Drug Treatment, Drug Rehab Programs, Heroin, Medication Assisted Treatment, Methadone, Methadone Benefits, Methadone Clinics, Methadone Maintenance, Methadone Programs, Methadone Treatment, Recovery, Suboxone, Suboxone Clinics, Suboxone Doctors | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Acadia Healthcare Opioid Treatment Programs

Committing Yourself To Recovery From Addiction

mental-healthDrug and alcohol addiction are treatable illnesses. They can be successfully managed and “arrested” such that they do not continue to harm a person’s life or compromise their health. Just as with any progressive illness, a patient should commit to a course of treatment that has been proven to eradicate their illness or reduce its impact. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, morbid obesity, alzheimer’s – all of these have established medical treatments which can increase a person’s chance of survival and/or quality of life.

Addiction is both a physiological and behavioral illness. With opioid addiction in particular, there is a strong biological/physical basis as well as a highly significant psychological component. When both of these are adequately addressed, a patient has a new opportunity to recover.

For most individuals with a severe opioid addiction, is critically important to receive physical relief from the discomfort of opioid withdrawal symptoms. But this must also happen in conjunction with behavioral health counseling. Counseling addresses the emotional & psychological factors that contributed to the development of addiction in the first place, and counseling teaches the skills necessary to remain drug free over the long-term and to hopefully avoid future relapses.

Many people find that if they neglect one of these two key areas, then they are more vulnerable to relapse and rapid deterioration. When opioid detox is not a viable option for a particular patient, methadone and suboxone are clearly the medications of choice for addressing opioid withdrawal. Counseling provides the other half of the equation. All methadone programs across the country (as well as all suboxone-approved physicians) are required to insure that their patients are receiving some level of addiction counseling.

The essential ingredient is this mix is patient commitment. Having a genuine desire for a drug free life is as important as anything else. Becoming ready for change is a process in itself and varies from person to person. It is true that many people find their way into recovery because of a recent crisis in which things get so bad they hit a new low, or bottom. This does not have to happen though.

Sometimes hitting “bottom” brings with it dire consequences. If you have been contemplating making a change, please remember that it is not too late. There are many advantages to acting today as opposed to waiting another day. Addiction loves procrastination. Recovery begins now with your commitment to doing something about your problem!

Posted in Addiction Recovery, Addiction Treatment, Buprenorphine, Medication Assisted Treatment, Methadone, Methadone Clinics, Methadone Maintenance, Methadone Success, Methadone Treatment, Opiate Treatment, Recovery, Recovery Support, Suboxone, Suboxone Doctors | Tagged , | Comments Off on Committing Yourself To Recovery From Addiction