Is Suboxone a Non Narcotic and Is It Good to Take to Get Off Methadone?

Question by b628: Is suboxone a non narcotic and is it good to take to get off methadone?
Okay I don’t know too much about this stuff but I’m trying to help my dad get off methadone. He has stopped for only two days and he really needs some help. We’re from jacksonville florida. Any places we can call for him to take something to get off of it? Please help!

Best answer:

Answer by Mathieu
Suboxone is a drug that combines buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is indeed an opioid narcotic used to help people stop using other opioids.

Suboxone can be used to withdraw a person off methadone although methadone is most commonly used in the same way as Suboxone, to help get a person off other opioid narcotics like Heroin, morphine, oxycodone, or hydromorphone.

It is also important to understand exactly how Suboxone or methadone works, they prevent opioid withdrawal syndrome because they are opioids and they bind to opioid receptors. However when used correctly they don’t produce a “high” and because Suboxone and methadone have a longer period of action they don’t need to be taken as often.

Was your father taking methadone for pain, for opioid dependence, was he using it recreationally? Opioids, when used for more than a few weeks, should NOT be abruptly discontinued and should be slowly reduced to prevent withdrawal (or only cause mild symptoms). What you can do really depends on the circumstances- a first and often best option is to take him to the emergency department at your local hospital and they can give him some medication to stop his withdrawal and can help figure out the best way to treat his problems. Some people need to take methadone, or something similar, for life, it may be an option for him to be detoxed in hospital or at a detox facility, he may benefit from drug rehab, or something else like using Suboxone may be the best option. The nice thing about going to hospital is that you can get help figuring out what to do and they can stop his withdrawal.

When it comes to methadone or Suboxone withdrawal lasts a long time, much longer than with opioids like Heroin or morphine and it is only at day 3-4 that the withdrawal peaks. So without some medical intervention he will get worse before he gets better. Also if we was addicted (which is not the same as physical dependence) to opioids it is common for people to relapse on them because they are unable to tolerate the withdraw.

Lastly other medications (non-opioid narcotics) can be used in some cases to help withdrawal. Commonly multiple drugs are used to provide symptomatic relief- clonidine, benzodiazepines (diazepam, chlordiazepoxide, lorazepam, oxazepam, temazepam), baclofen, carbamazepine, gabapentin, and pregabalin are drugs that have been used in opioid withdrawal especially clonidine and benzodiazepines.

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One Response to Is Suboxone a Non Narcotic and Is It Good to Take to Get Off Methadone?

  • Sparrow says:

    As the previous replier explained, Suboxone is a maintenance based for of treatment for opiate addiction, like methadone- however, you don’t want to take suboxone if you’re also taking (or have recently taken) methadone.
    Suboxone contains a Narcan like proponent, that makes the user sick if they take other opiates- methadone is an opioid agonist; a synthetic opiate that binds to the same receptors in the brain that opiates do.
    Suboxone has become the darling of the opiate treatment community over the last few years for many reasons; the most obvious one being that it’s a little easier to obtain than methadone is.
    The Harrison Drug Act made it illegal for a general practitioner or physician to prescribe methadone for opiate addiction treatment. Methadone has two uses: as a maintenance based therapy for opiate addiction, and as a pain management medication for chronic, severe pain. While a physician may prescribe it for pain, only a state run and certified Methadone Maintenance Clinic (MMT) may do so for opiate addiction. To do so, they are required to follow rigorous regulations and clients must adhere to these policies, or they will lose their place in the program.
    These regulations include (but are not limited to) taking frequent, random, supervised drug test screens; participation in both one on one & group counseling; completing tri-monthly treatment goal plans that are used to demonstrate the patient is moving forward with their life not only in terms of sobriety, but as well as in establishing a stable home situation, getting gainfully employed, and anything else that their individual situation warranted. There are also annual physicals, periodic well-checks, routine blood work; occasional state required class completions (mainly educational- for ex: a class on HIV/AIDS, or Hepatitis C awareness may be mandated by the state; parenting classes, GED completion, etc.).
    Methadone, when taken properly, does not impair cognitive function or slow motor skills- nor does it give the user a feeling of euphoria (in other words, it won’t get you high). Suboxone CAN give the patient feelings of euphoria, and has a high risk for abuse.
    I’m assuming we’re all familiar with the science of addiction, but if not: the long and short of it is that our bodies produce endorphins- natural pain killers- in small amounts, as needed. Opiates- drugs derived from the poppy plant- (heroin, vicodin, Darvon, oxycontin, morphine, dilaudid, etc.)- when taken, cause an influx of these endorphins. When a person takes opiates on a regular basis, the human body, which is extremely adept at conserving it’s natural resources- recognizes that the person is providing them with more than enough synthetic endorphins through opiates- and the body stops producing it’s small amounts. So when an opiate addict suddenly stops using opiates, the body goes into an endorphin-deficiency, causing the person to become very ill.
    The first thing you need to understand is that methadone for opiate addiction is not a quick fix. Abstinence should always be the ultimate goal, and there are many forms of treatment available to you- detox, residential rehab, IOP, etc- but if those methods fail, repeatedly, then methadone is a very good option.
    It has a lot of negative stigma b/c people are simply ignorant and uneducated about how it works- they consider it a bad drug, and a substitute high- when it reality, it is neither. In comparison to most medications, methadone has few side effects- nor does it get you high. It does require daily dosing to keep the patient from going into acute withdrawal, but it eliminates the use of needles, the potential for overdose or buying something mixed that is dirty and potentially dangerous; and it allows the addict to stop hustling, and begin turning his or her life around. Saying methadone should be banned b/c it’s a bad medication is like saying chemotherapy should be banned b/c it’s terrible- in some ways, yes, it is- but if you have cancer, it’s a damn good way to beat it.
    The bulk of the negativity we hear now has been the result of a few celebrity deaths I the tabloids- what most don’t know however, is that none- ZERO- of those deaths- or any others- were related to a person taking methadone as prescribed. They were the result of taking it improperly, and in conjunction with other medications- and they were not getting their methadone from MMT clinics, but from physicians or friends they mislead.
    MMT clinics don’t give take home doses until the client has been in the program for a long period, and in total compliance through out- and even then, they are only given them in small increments (1-2 at a time)- the longer they’re there and comply, the more they can earn, but it is rare for a clinic to ever give more than 5 or 6 at a time. When a client earns those, they must pick them up in a locked box and be willing to bring in any unused doses they should have left, within 24 hours, if the clinic calls them for a routine check.
    Now- Suboxone.
    Suboxone, as a rule, is not a bad drug- but methadone has, and remains to be, the most successful form of treatment for opiate addiction- among both maintenance and abstinence based programs. Some years back, a medication called ORALAM came out, and people were jumping for it: it required dosing only every other day, which gave the client more freedom.
    After a heavy push to switch, many patients developed heart problems; and eventually, ORALAM was discontinued and the patients returned to methadone. Later, a study of client activity indicated a higher rate of relapse and drug abuse when they were on ORALAM, versus when they were on methadone.
    Suboxone seems to be the latest ORALAM- but unlike ORALAM, or methadone- it can be prescribed by a general practitioner. All they have to do is complete a weekend long in service to get certified, and agree to not take on more than 25 Suboxone patients. Since then, they’ve popped up left and right. The patient has very little required of them other than taking their suboxone, and the doctors can give them a 30 day supply from day one.
    Many patients on methadone made the switch, b/c it sounded like freedom. Most relapsed, and many returned to methadone.
    The caveat is this: in order for a methadone patient to go to suboxone from methadone,they must first get down to a methadone dose of about 20-30mg (at the rate of 1-5mg decreases a week). Once there, they must stop using methadone for several days, and allow themselves to go into withdrawal- only then can they start suboxone- b/c again, suboxone has a narcan element that will make the user ill if they use opiates in conjunction with suboxone.
    Most importantly- to get off methadone for suboxone makes little sense- it is very much trading one addiction for another. Suboxone is not a quick fix either, but it’s less effective, and has less success.
    I don’t know the particulars of your father’s situation- if he’s using for pain or opiate addiction- or most importantly, why he wants to quit.
    The longer a patient stays in an MMT program, the higher the success of his sobriety after. This has been proven time and time again, for decade after decade. Programs will never tell you to get off or stay on; it’s the individual’s decision, but they will warn any less than 2 years is highly unlikely to keep you sober. Many patients stay on it for years, and go on to live happy, productive lives.
    If your father has personally made the choice to get off, then there is a process. Before I explain it though, I have to reiterate how vital it is that this be his choice- not b/c of family pressure. Many families don’t understand how MMT works, and urge their loved ones to get off- at the expense of the addicts sobriety. It doesn’t work like that- if it did, they wouldn’t have needed it in the first place. I suspect Suboxone will not last long, at least for the indication of treatment for addiction- it lacks any requirements on behalf of the addict to change their lifestyle, which they must do if they want to stay clean. We lose not just our ability to not use in opiate addiction- we lose everything; and we must restart by building back up the things we tore down. MMT clinics help addicts do that; Suboxone on the other hand- well, it is exactly what most people think of methadone- little more than a legal daily dose. No treatment, no discipline, no responsibilty.
    In addition, the person should have their life in order: a stable home environment, a good job they enjoy, strong- repaired- relationships with loved ones; hobbies and activities they enjoy. Without these, they stand no chance- opiate addiction has the lowest success rate of any addiction, and withdrawal from methadone is a thousand times harder than that from heroin or other opiates.
    If your father falls under all these categories, then there is a process for weaning off that ease the transition and withdrawal. I know of very few people who did it a different way and made it through, the method is in place for a reason.

    I strongly urge you to read it.
    If you have more questions, or need help locating something, please don’t hesitate to email me, either through here or on the website board (I’m the creator/admin). Best of luck,

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