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Dangers of Cultural Stigma Against Suboxone


margin-left:0in;line-height:13.25pt”>For those who take medication management drugs for opiate addiction, sometimes the stigma associated with such can be a thorn in the side.

margin-left:0in;line-height:13.25pt”>Those against drugs like Suboxone or Subutex contend that “recovering addicts” aren’t really “clean” since they are replacing one drug with another, but those in favor of such argue that medically supervised med management is getting opiate users off the streets, off the hard drugs, and saving lives.

margin-left:0in;line-height:13.25pt”>To think that the medical community or every day folks would take a negative attitude toward drug maintenance treatment via Suboxone is disheartening. Do they not realize that there are many thousands of addicts out there just one hit, sniff, injection away from overdose? Or losing their children?

margin-left:0in;line-height:13.25pt”>There seems to be some buzz going around about how maintenance drugs such as Suboxone or Subutex keep users from really being in recovery. They think that they are using a “chemical crutch” and just replacing one drug with another.

The dangers of such cultural stigma against Suboxone is sure to keep many opiate addicts from even trying it in order to get off the streets.

margin-left:0in;line-height:13.25pt”>This, in spite of evidence from the last decade or so showing favorable results from the maintenance drugs, is an issue that needs to be addressed from the positive perspective; the perspective that values the saving of lives.

margin-left:0in;line-height:13.25pt”>Take Kristen Johnston for example, as she reveals her hardcore drug addiction to Vicodin in her memoir, Guts. The actress from the hit show 3rd Rock From the Sun, shares on the David Letterman Show how her drug and alcohol addiction literally ate a hole in her stomach and almost caused her to die. When Letterman asked her if she used “pharmacological medications” to assist her in her recovery, she said she sure as heck did and was grateful for Suboxone. It helped her get off Vicodin and alcohol and begin creating a life full of peace and hope.

Things to Keep in Mind About Suboxone and Subutex

Keeping within the prescribed amounts is critical

margin-left:0in;line-height:13.25pt”>What causes skeptics to raise their eyebrows is the assumption that users will take the maintenance drug irregularly or in such a way as to chase ecstasy. Of course, there is the possibility that a user can do so, but in many cases the user is solely using the maintenance medication as prescribed to keep them from going back to using hardcore opiates.

margin-left:0in;line-height:13.25pt”>With skeptics pushing for recovering addicts to stop taking Suboxone and other maintenance meds, should they do so, their chances of overdosing increase. In fact, research is showing that those who cannot continue with maintenance for one reason or another are at a much higher risk of overdosing should they go back to active addiction. The deaths of Alice in Chains bassist, Mike Starr is a prime example of how deadly leaving “maintenance meds” and going back to the opiates can cause overdose. Starr died of an overdose in 2011.

Medical supervision is necessary

margin-left:0in;line-height:13.25pt”>Of course, Suboxone and Subutex as maintenance drugs ought to medically supervised, as there is always the potential to abuse such. Whether it’s in a drug treatment rehab or once treatment is completed, a recovering addict should have a substance abuse professional to supervise their medical management, as the ultimate goal for their recovery is to eventually wean off of the maintenance drug altogether. 

Maintenance drugs are NOT “Cheating”

margin-left:0in;line-height:13.25pt”>If you are addicted to opiates and choose to take Suboxone in order to get off of the hardcore drugs, you are not cheating. In fact, the Betty Ford Center asserts that those who decide to take Suboxone, Subutex, Methadone, or Buprenorphine are considered to be in recovery just like everyone else. They are indeed considered clean and sober, so long as they take the maintenance drug as prescribed.

The facts about maintenance drugs

margin-left:0in;line-height:13.25pt”>The facts show that medical management drugs such as Suboxone certainly help opiate users stop using opiates such as heroin and pain pills and lessen their chance of dying from drug overdose. It is the hope of those who take advantage of such management drugs that the stigma associated with such will decrease and they will feel comfortable and confident in their “recovery”.

What to do next

If you or a loved one are seeking information about Subutex and Suboxone and medically assisted detoxification, contact Pat Moore Foundation.

Image: Flickr

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