I found this old post from ten years ago that I never got around to publishing it. A person doesn’t like taking Suboxone and blames the drug for the lack of change in his life. It plays into the discussion about methadone because it shows the attitudes that can develop in people who feel stuck. The potency of Suboxone is about the same of being on 35 mg of methadone/day. In other words, getting off Suboxone is about as hard as getting off 35 mg of methadone. Imagine being on a dose that is ten times higher.
I was cockier back then, and a jerk to some people who challenged me. And my readership was much larger. Must be some lesson in that…. But here it is, a person who doesn’t like taking Suboxone:
I have written about the comments I get from people who hate Suboxone, including some who are angry that Suboxone is available at all. Most of those comments come from people who either have not taken Suboxone or who took it incorrectly, on the street, using doses that were too small and/or not having a general strategy for using the medication as a tool to eliminate the obsession for opiates. Less frequent are negative comments from people who are taking Suboxone; they usually gripe that they are unable to stop taking the medication. My usual reply is ‘have you truly tried, using a plan like one that I describe in my blog? After that I’ll ask ‘what else have you done to further your recovery?’ Suboxone holds addiction in ‘remission’, but is not a total cure. To truly change, people on buprenorphine must find a way to move forward to a better life. As life gets better, the attachment to opioids will fade. I’ve seen it for myself literally hundreds of times.
There are other factors that get in the way of stopping Suboxone such as the potency of buprenorphine, which I’ve discussed in prior posts.
I received an e-mail recently from someone who had different reasons for disliking Suboxone. I will post his message and my response. I will point out what I think is the crux of the issue for the patient and the reason I reject his argument. See if you, the reader, recognize it before I mention it.
I believe that each case is different. In my case, I almost WISH I had gone through the harsh withdrawal-loose everything- steps and that my only choice left was to grasp NA or AA or my own spiritual systm and gone through the nasty withdrawal and grasp recovery- hopefully.
But I was prescribed sub. Have been on it for 2, almost 3 yrs. Yes it is a miracle in many ways. Takes craving away, the ceiling effect avoids the addictive use of it, and ultimately it becomes another medicine. But the side effects for me are almost worth not living with. I adore nature, and especially the ocean, and since going on the medicine have very little energy and even desire to go outdoors (this was after a week long “perfect drug” feeling towards it). My libido is zero.
As a result I have gained weight though I am not fat. My spiritual life, which is only something one can sense, is in limbo. The Relationship aspect of spirituality cut off almost like my libido.
I just want to read, and learn things, maintain in life and care for my daughters and my mother. But I do not have any zest for life.
So, If I am to stay on it for life, that will be very bad news, because I would rather die. Not now, not soon, but in the long run.
It is sort of a weird way to look at things. Alcoholics do not have this pill. Many of them die and do not stay sober, but those that do and work hard, have great success at living above average lives. Full Joyous, Loving Lives. Not a second rate pill that just keeps them from wanting to drink.
Because when you do not feel like drinking or using, then you are likely not to go to the trouble of going to meetings.
So one stays in the limbo of the med.
So either work the work or suffer the dire consequences. Opiate Addicts now have a tempting pill that will keep them from going into the hell of withdrawal and then further keep them from wanting to use opiates. So they take their med, and are pleased simply with not having withdrawals, and not wanting to use…… the rest… FOR LIFE?
I think at some point recovery has to come in and yes the “abstinence” concept is very important.
So far the worst monkey I have ever had on my back (and I speak for myself) is suboxone.
Wow. I appreciate that the writer took pains to say that this was his opinion, and that he was speaking only for himself. I note that he makes points that I have also made– that the benefit of attending AA or NA is largely lost when a person is happily taking Suboxone. But I take issue with taking that idea a step further, and blaming being on Suboxone for his lack of action bettering his spirituality and life in general. Part of the reason is because I hate ‘blaming’ in general; it is something that we all do too much of. Blaming freezes out any chance at Recovery.
Another reason is because I see many people on Suboxone who have all of the things that the writer WISHES he had, and I do not see negative effects of Suboxone on a person’s spirituality. I see much of the opposite, people who have found a newfound appreciation for their families and desire for greater spirituality in life. I also see plenty of people with or without addictions who never took Suboxone in the same rut as the writer. I see no reason to attribute the rut to treatment with buprenorphine and wonder how the writer made such a stretch. He was actively using opiates, a condition surely devoid of spirituality that saps all ‘zest for life’. During active use a person does many shameful things that are repressed into the ash-heap of the unconscious, waiting to bring us down when we are finally sober enough to look back at them. Now that he is sober and still miserable, it is the fault of the medication that brought him half-way back?
But the bigger point is what I alluded to in my initial comments about insight. He wrote that he almost wishes that he had gone the ‘other’ way, to abstinence-based residential treatment. To that I say, it sure is easy to talk about what we would have done! To take it a step further…. if, looking back, you now think that would have been a ‘better’ options, why not do it now? He in on Suboxone and lacks the motivation to go, but apparently that motivation wasn’t there when he started Suboxone either. If he truly wants to get back there for a redo, back to that state of mind fueled by misery, it is easy enough: just stop the Suboxone, wait a few days, and you will be there! I am not recommending that action, of course.
All of us look for things to blame, rather than recognize our own failings. And in this case the writer is imagining an earlier time that didn’t exist; a time when he ‘would’ have gone into treatment if Suboxone hadn’t ruined things for him. Even if there had been such a time the revisionist history doesn’t jibe, because that situation is still present now. If he says ‘I would have been better off had I done the full treatment’, I say, ‘then DO it, big talker!’ It is still there waiting for you.
If the writer is honest he will see that he didn’t do residential treatment back then because he wouldn’t. For one of a thousand reasons, he didn’t want to do it. How do we know that? Because here he is with the option in front of him, probably with greater resources than he had then, and he won’t do it now.
As for the implied side effects in the post that Suboxone is causing the lack of ‘zest’ and spirituality, I think the writer probably has things backwards. Those things were stolen by active addiction, and they come back if/when a person works for them. They are both hard to find in today’s electronic world, and neither is likely to fall in someone’s lap. For spirituality, find a faith that fits, and engage. Maybe join a community, although that isn’t necessary. As for zest, find something interesting and learn more about it. Grow your interest and apply what you’ve learned in some small way. Or watch a ‘dance tutorial’ on TikTok and practice until you learn the steps. Take a class at a technical college.
This post is somewhat dated because I now rarely here these types of complaints. I think most people have learned, through social media, that tapering off buprenorphine is possible. It is easier, though, when a person has made changes that have carried him/her far beyond the using world. For patients, keep growing your lives. Always, even when it is difficult. Work if you can. It isn’t all about finding ‘happiness; balance in life requires something sitting on BOTH ends of the stick.