What Are Addiction Treatment Drugs?
Designed to be included as part of medication-assisted treatment regimens, Suboxone and Subutex have been successful in helping to prevent relapse in individuals who are battling an addiction to opioids like heroin and prescription painkillers. Suboxone is a partial opioid agonist that consists of a combination of naloxone and buprenorphine. Subutex is an opioid partial agonist-antagonist that is comprised of buprenorphine.
When individuals have become addicted to heroin or prescription painkillers, they will experience highly uncomfortable and distressing withdrawal symptoms should they attempt to stop using their drugs of choice. Due to the distress that the period of withdrawal elicits, many individuals resume using opioids in order to experience relief. This can ultimately derail the recovery attempts of even the most dedicated individuals.
Suboxone and Subutex were created to help ease the process and make recovery a more viable option for those who are struggling with opioid addictions. Both medications work to reduce withdrawal symptoms when a person stops using heroin or prescription painkillers, while also minimizing cravings for continued use. When taken under the supervision of professionals at an addiction treatment center, and in combination with individual and/or group therapy, both Suboxone and Subutex can be highly beneficial and lead to positive results.
Unfortunately, Suboxone and Subutex are not always used within the guidelines set by prescribing physicians and are beginning to be used more frequently outside of the treatment setting.
In Southwest Virginia, the prevalence of buprenorphine abuse is skyrocketing. Suboxone is the most frequent agent of this abuse, and the average rates of individuals consuming this substance illicitly within this section of the state are said to be nine times greater than the state-wide average.
In previous years, Southwest Virginia was plagued by what officials had labeled as a “painkiller epidemic,” which resulted in numerous overdoses and subsequent deaths. As federal regulations have made the prescribing of painkillers more limited, the area has seen a resurgence of heroin abuse. In Virginia alone, nearly 350 people died as the result of heroin overdoses in 2015. This demonstrates the reemerging heroin epidemic because, prior to 2015, many counties within the state had not experienced a heroin death in nine years.
In an attempt to reverse the heroin problem, medication-assisted treatment programs offer individuals who are suffering from addictions to opioids the opportunity to receive prescriptions for medications such as Suboxone or Subutex to help jumpstart their recovery processes.
The goal is that, by minimizing withdrawal symptoms and eliminating intrusive cravings, these medications will help individuals to refrain from returning to the use of heroin or prescription painkillers. Unfortunately when Suboxone and Subutex are consumed in great quantities, both can produce pleasurable feelings that individuals begin to crave. This can increase the risk for abuse and addiction.
Like any substance that can produce a mind-altering and/or mood-altering high, once the possible effects of the substance are known, many individuals begin to seek out that substance. Some may do so with the best intentions; they want to end their addictions to heroin or prescription painkillers, so they believe that by consuming Suboxone or Subutex, they will be able to do so while still achieving a pleasurable high. Others may seek out these substances strictly for recreational purposes.
Within Wise County, located in Southwest Virginia, the acquisition and sale of these medications for illicit purposes is becoming increasingly common. Where individuals once purchased and sold heroin and popular painkillers like oxycodone, there are now drug deals occurring that involve Suboxone and Subutex. Law enforcement personnel in the area have noted that, within the county, the illegal use of these substances has become more popular than methamphetamine (meth) and various synthetic drugs, which are commonplace in the surrounding areas.
These substances are acquired by individuals who go to addiction treatment clinics with the sole intention of receiving a prescription for buprenorphine, and then turn around and sell it to people on the streets who may have previously purchased heroin and painkillers.
While Suboxone abuse is an obvious problem, many professionals argue that it is the lesser of two evils. When individuals abuse heroin or prescription painkillers, they are placing themselves at an ever-present risk for experiencing an overdose, which has the potential to be deadly. When individuals abuse Suboxone, on the other hand, they are not at the same risk for facing a fatal overdose.
Even law enforcement hesitates to arrest individuals for illegally distributing Suboxone and Subutex because they feel that it is more crucial to target the buying and selling of harder drugs.
Addiction treatment specialists argue that the positives of these substances outweigh the negatives. They attribute the illegal distribution of the drugs on the streets as being the result of non-reputable clinics dispensing more prescriptions than they should and to individuals who do not truly possess a need for them.
Advocates for the drugs have stated that if the people who are abusing Suboxone did not have access to it, then they would be abusing more dangerous opioids, which would cause more detrimental outcomes. They believe that when the medications are used as intended, and are prescribed only to those who truly need them to overcome an addiction to opioids, they can be life-saving.
Regardless of whether one is for or against the use of medications like Suboxone or Subutex, it is important to understand that as soon as people lose the ability to control the amount of a substance that they are consuming, they are likely dealing with addiction, and they need help.
At Life Center of Galax, we understand the challenges that an addiction introduces into a person’s life. Yet, we also firmly believe that an individual should not be defined by his or her struggles with substance abuse. For this reason, we are proud to deliver truly individualized care that meets patients where they are at in their journeys. For more than 40 years we have been providing all-encompassing care to men and women who are battling addictions, as well as to those who are struggling with certain co-occurring mental health conditions.
As the popularity of particular drugs ebb and flow, we, at Life Center of Galax, have been dedicated to updating our practices and programming options to ensure that everyone who is entrusted into our care has the best opportunity to successfully achieve recovery.