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Does Suboxone Help Cure Heroin Addiction
Suboxone is a drug that combines buprenorphine and naloxone in order to treat patients who are addicted to opioid drugs like heroin. Suboxone can be very beneficial to a person's recovery, however it is not a cure for addiction.
What is Suboxone?
Suboxone utilizes buprenorphine (a partial opioid agonist) and naloxone (a pure opioid antagonist) to treat individuals with severe opioid addictions, like those who become addicted to heroin. Buprenorphine works by producing "typical opioid agonist effects and side effects such as euphoria and respiratory depression" but its "maximal effects are less than those of full agonists like heroin and methadone" (SAMHSA). Because it is used with naloxone, the high is prevented and the drug has less of an ability to be abused in order to get that high: when a person injects the drug, the naloxone will precipitate withdrawal symptoms.
Why Take Suboxone for Heroin Addiction?
SAMSHA lists the criteria for ideal buprenorphine treatment candidates. They are:
- Someone who has been diagnosed with heroin addiction.
- Someone who is "willing to follow safety precautions for treatment."
- Someone who will comply with the treatment.
- Someone who has heard all other treatment options before choosing buprenorphine treatment.
If you decide to take Suboxone for your heroin addiction, you are choosing to start a possibly long-term treatment which you must take seriously. You may choose this treatment if you know that you need long-term medical assistance for your addiction but there isn't a methadone clinic nearby. It is also helpful if you "want your regular doctor to be the one who is treating your heroin use" and you don't want to visit a clinic every day (NYDH).
Why Isn't Suboxone a Cure for Heroin Addiction?
Suboxone "is indicated for treatment of opioid dependence and should be used as part of a complete treatment plan to include counseling and psychosocial support" (DailyMed). As a rule, medication is not a cure for addiction as recovery is much more complex than being just the point where a person stops using the drug he or she is addicted to. There is always a chance for relapse, even when using a medication like Suboxone, and without other treatment options, a person will not change his or her attitude toward heroin.
Here are some of the other treatment options which can be utilized along with taking Suboxone:
- Behavioral therapies such as: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Motivational Incentives, Family Therapy and Contingency Management
- Group Therapy
- Mutual-Help Groups
- Holistic Methods such as: Exercise, Yoga and Journaling
Some people will also take Suboxone for a longer period of time than others because they need that constant maintenance of their addictions. Addiction is a brain disease and treatment requires "long-term or repeated episodes of care to achieve the ultimate goal of sustained abstinence and recovery" (NIDA).