Addiction treatment has come a long way in the last two decades. Prescription drugs can now help keep people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction away from their substance of choice. One of the most commonly used medications for addiction treatment is Suboxone. People who go through a Suboxone medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program enjoy a much higher chance of lasting recovery. But can it be considered a true recovery if you are still using Suboxone?
At New Start Recovery, we realize that there may be some confusion regarding what constitutes real recovery. Our goal is to help you break away from dependence on drugs and alcohol, whether that means a detox, residential, or outpatient program with or without medication-assisted treatment. Every step toward a life free of drugs or alcohol is a win, and we can help you succeed. Give us a call today at 833.433.0448 to learn more about overcoming addiction with our Suboxone MAT programs.
What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment?
As the name suggests, medication-assisted treatment involves using prescription medications to help with addiction treatment. MAT is primarily used in the treatment of opioid and alcohol addiction. A few of the most popular medicines used for MAT are:
Medication-assisted treatment has gained widespread traction in conjunction with therapy and the lifestyle modifications offered by more traditional 12-step programs. However, not all MAT drugs are viewed equally by the fellowship. Suboxone, in particular, presents problems; although it blocks opioids, it is an opioid itself. This begs the question: Does Suboxone count as getting clean?
What Is Suboxone and How Does It Work?
Suboxone is the brand name of a medication that combines buprenorphine with naloxone. These two drugs are also available separately for addiction treatment, so it helps to understand all three medications to understand better how Suboxone fits into being clean.
There is no question that some people in recovery start abusing the withdrawal treatment drug buprenorphine the same way they abused their former opiate of choice, whether it was heroin, oxycodone, or another opioid drug. It does provide some of the same effects because it is, after all, an opiate itself. That is why detox patients get tapered off pure buprenorphine (branded as Subutex) before going to residential treatment.
Some people in recovery choose to move on to long-term maintenance (MAT) once detox is over. This may consist of naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, which is an opiate blocker. It is commonly provided as a nasal spray to reverse opiate overdoses and save lives.
By combining buprenorphine with naloxone, you get Suboxone, which provides a form of maintenance that ideally prevents abuse of buprenorphine via the presence of naloxone. As you can see, it is not as simple as referring to Suboxone as an opiate because it is also an opiate blocker.
Suboxone MAT and the Big Book Bias
Absolute sobriety is a cornerstone of Alcoholics Anonymous, and this non-negotiable approach helps set clear boundaries that members of the fellowship can follow throughout their lives. Then, it is understandable that many AA members would feel that using Suboxone would not count as getting clean. After all, you still have opiates in your system, and it is all the same when it comes to a traditional reading of the 12 Steps. The belief is that opiates are opiates, and you are not clean and sober until you have completely given them up.
On the other hand, the picture is not quite as cut and dry as the traditional AA fellowship may suggest. To their credit, the Big Book’s approach works very well for a significant amount of people. But every person in recovery is unique, and statistics show that MAT tends to have lower long-term relapse rates for opiate users.
New Start Recovery: Supporting Your Sober Lifestyle with Suboxone MAT
Before accepting criticism that Suboxone does not count as getting clean, consider your personal history with alternatives like total abstinence. Maintenance is a much better option than full-blown relapse.
While MAT may not be right for everyone, it can be a good option for some situations. The treatment counselors at New Start Recovery can help you make this important decision. If you or a loved one is seeking help for a substance abuse problem, our addiction counselors are available 24/7 by phone at 833.433.0448.