Help for Opiate Withdrawal

Fear of opiate withdrawal makes many who suffer from opiate abuse and addiction, whether it be heroin dependence or an addiction to painkillers, afraid to get clean.

I’ll be honest – to me, this just sounds like another justification for someone to continue using. In order to get clean, I believe you have to be willing to go to any length to get and stay clean… and yes, sometimes this includes a painful withdrawal.

That being said, I do acknowledge that going through withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable, scary, and painful. In the past, people had to quit “cold turkey” without the help of any other kind of drug.

More recently, there are drugs that are used to help people with opiate withdrawal.  The most popular drugs used for this purpose are methadone and suboxone. 

What is Methadone?

Methadone is a synthetic opioid that is used to wean an addict off of heroin or other opiate based narcotics. Methadone, because it is basically an opiate, is also used in some cases to manage chronic pain. Methadone is given to opiate addicts mainly to help lessen the severity of the opiate withdrawal symptoms.

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is very similar to Methadone, as it is also used to wean opioid addicts off of heroin or other opiate based narcotics. The biggest difference between the two is that Suboxone is only a partial opiod, whereas methadone is a full opiod. This means Suboxone has less potential for abuse because it is not as likely to produce feelings of euphoria.

Miracle drugs or just another deadly addiction?

Many people see drugs like Methadone and Suboxone as some kind of magical cure for addiction. This is not even close to being true. Yes, both of these drugs will help lessen the severity of withdrawal from opiates and they may stop a person from using other opiates, but there are many negative consequences that can come from these drugs.

The only way these drugs are effective is if they are taken as prescribed, and if they are taken in conjunction with some kind of recovery program. Otherwise, it seems that one addiction is simply being replaced with another addiction.

The idea is to take Methadone or Suboxone for a very limited period of time, slowly lowering the dose until you are not taking any kind of drug. As I said, opiate withdrawal can be painful and scare people away from attempting to get clean, so just knowing that these medications are available may help a lot of people decide to enter treatment. Therefore, I think that in an inpatient rehab setting, these drugs can be wonderful.

The most important factor is that these drugs need to be given at an appropriate dose, and there needs to be knowledgeable medical staff readily available.

If someone is taking one of these drugs without the care of a professional, they can be abused very easily.

A lot of people go on one of these drugs expecting it to cure all of their problems – and for a time, it might actually seem like it does. The problem is that people stay on these drugs for much longer than they should. The idea is to be on these drugs for no longer than a month or two, but without the proper supervision this often does not happen. Some people will argue that there's nothing wrong with staying on these medications for an extended period of time, or even for their entire lives. I strongly disagree with this and believe that they should be used as a short term solution.

Again, I do believe that drugs such as Suboxone and Methadone can be very helpful, but there are definitely risks involved.

(1) - Both of these drugs are very addictive, and can cause overdose if too much is taken.

(2) - The withdrawal symptoms from these drugs can be worse than actual opiate withdrawal from heroin or other narcotics. 

If you can get clean without the aid of other drugs, that is the best way to go. When something like Suboxone or Methadone is needed, take these drugs with extreme caution and under the proper supervision.

Suboxone vs. Methadone

I have done a lot of research and read a lot of personal experiences of people who have used both Methadone and Suboxone. The general consensus seems to be that Suboxone has less of an abuse potential, and the withdrawal from suboxone is significantly less severe than the withdrawal from Methadone.

That being said, always consult a professional and make sure you are taking these drugs as prescribed. Make sure you also try to incorporate other types of recovery into your plan, such as rehab, intensive outpatient, therapy, 12 step meetings, or anything else you might incorporate into your recovery.

Different drugs work for different people, but there is always a way to get clean. As long as you are willing to do whatever it takes and are willing to follow directions and put in some hard work, long term sobriety is possible.

What is your opinion on drugs like Suboxone and Methadone? Please share your experiences and your opinions with us!

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