One of the reasons why so many people relapse when they are attempting to beat an opiate addiction is because of the withdrawal symptoms. This is why specialists often suggest the use of medication such as buprenorphine or methadone to lessen the side effects of withdrawing while reducing one’s cravings. Before undergoing treatment, it is important to understand some of the differences between these forms of medication so that you can make an informed decision on which will be right for you.
Suboxone and Partial Opioid Agonists
The primary chemical in Suboxone is a partial opioid agonist known as buprenorphine. After years of research, experts found that partial opioid agonists fill up the same receptors in an individual’s brain as an opiate such as heroin or morphine. Within just moments of taking Suboxone, the receptors are filled and the opiates have nowhere to go. What makes this style of medication so popular is the fact that it reduces the effects of other opiates.
Another major benefit of Suboxone is that it is very difficult to abuse. Medication that contains buprenorphine does not cause the same rush of euphoria as other opiates. It is also very difficult to break down and concentrate the active chemicals. Addicts who have abused medication in the past are often given buprenorphine as an alternative to methadone.
Methadone and Opioid Replacement Medication
Unlike partial opioid agonists that block the receptors, methadone is simply used as an alternative to stronger doses of heroin and morphine. Methadone was first used during the 1930s in Germany, and American scientists began testing it immediately following the war. By 1947, methadone was approved by the FDA to treat opioid addictions. While this style of medication can be effective, it does come with a few unique risks.
Methadone is so powerful that addicts are rarely allowed to take it home when they are first withdrawing from opiates. In order to get a dose, an individual must show up at the clinic or treatment center and get evaluated by a specialist. After they have been in treatment for a period of time, they might be given smaller doses to take home. Most people must take maintenance pills every 24 hours in order to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms and reduce the cravings.
How Long Is the Medication Needed?
There is no set amount of time that an individual must be treated. Every addiction is slightly different, and it is important to come up with a personalized plan that addresses all aspects of one’s life. In some cases, an individual will continue to take methadone or Suboxone for the rest of their life. Others attempt to wean off of the medication once they feel as if they have a better grasp on their addiction.
When you first begin taking any form of addiction medication, it is vital that you carefully follow all instructions given to you by your doctor, therapist, or counselor. While these medications are much safer than street drugs and stronger doses of morphine, they still come with a number of risks. This includes the chance of becoming addicted. Those who abuse these drugs or mix them with other depressants also have a high risk of overdosing.
Beating an Opiate Addiction Permanently
No one should attempt to beat an addiction on their own. Those who combine medication with a comprehensive treatment program will put themselves in the best possible position to permanently beat their addiction and move on with their lives. These programs often combine group therapy, personal counseling, medication, and lifestyle changes.