Addiction is one of the most prevalent diseases that is sweeping the nation. Alcoholism has always been a problem that waxes and wanes with the generations. Other addictions such as body dysmorphia and sexual addictions are gaining publicity as more people become comfortable talking about their body struggles and sexual habits. Cigarette use has dropped drastically, but as a result vaporizing pens and other cigarette alternatives are becoming more popular. However, the number one drug that is destroying cities and ruining lives is opiates. Most people become addicted to pain pills after an injury or surgery. They take them during the recovery period and soon realize they’ll become very sick if they suddenly stop taking the medication. Others are introduced to pills by their friends or family and don’t understand the dependence that the drug creates. Regardless of how people become addicted, most people switch to heroin due to the inexpensiveness of the drug and its availability. Getting on heroin is relatively easy, but breaking your dependence from the drug is much more difficult. So how do people become “unhooked” so to speak?
Metha-Dos and Metha-Don’ts
Since many people become addicted to pain pills due to an injury, it is very difficult to stop taking the medication if you are constantly in pain without it. As a result, many doctors prescribe people Methadone as a way to taper patients down from high doses of pain medication. Methadone is considered less habit forming than other medications such as Percocet and Oxycodone. Methadone is also a safe way to detox from harder drugs and is becoming widely available. There are even some cities that have mobile Methadone units that can monitor people on the go and deliver the medication to areas that are in need of it but may lack the resources to receive it. A program referred to as The Methadone Maintenance Program was created as an aid for people to use to beat addiction and regain control of their lives.
The program aims to reduce the dependence on opioids by creating a controlled taper that allows people to regain control of their lives and detox from opioids without greatly affecting their emotional and physical health. A study done by MethadoneNearMe.com found that the Methadone Maintenance Program has a much higher success rate that abrupt detox or at home tapers. Methadone is a popular way to slowly detox from prescription drugs and heroin. However, a Methadone taper should always be done under the care of a doctor or other health care provider as the medication can become addicting if it is not controlled properly.
Another commonly prescribed medication for detox is Subutex. Subutex, also known as Buprenorphine, is a medication that was recently approved by the FDA. The medication works by coating the opioid receptors in the brain, allowing the brain to believe that it is getting the drug that it craves. Subutex is considered safer than Methadone because it has a ceiling effect. Meaning that after about 24mg of the medication, it no longer produces any differing results. For example, taking 24mg would have the same effect as taking 30mg because the body is unable to process more than 24mg of the medication in any 24-hour period.
Subutex also provides relief for roughly 12 hours so you don’t need a lot of the medication to keep the withdraw symptoms at bay. While Subutex isn’t necessarily addictive, people may still become dependent on it. Taken over a longer period of time, without a proper taper, this medication also causes withdrawal symptoms. It’s important to remember that this medication should only be taken as prescribed and under the care of a physician, preferably one who specializes in addiction.
The Safety of Suboxone
The third most common medication used for detox and withdrawal symptoms is Suboxone. Suboxone is a combination Buprenorphine and Naloxone. Naloxone is a medication that makes opioids ineffective in the brain. It is commonly used to help prevent or stop cravings. This medication is considered the safest of the three because it combines the ceiling effect of Buprenorphine with the blocking effect of Naloxone. Another redeeming property of Naloxone is that if a person consumes opioids while the Naloxone is still in their system they will immediately go into precipitated withdrawal. They start to exhibit symptoms similar to that of detoxing. Suboxone comes in four different doses to make it easier for a long, slow taper. Suboxone is not considered addictive, although some people may become dependent on it due to the fact that it becomes a “safety net” for them. According to the American Addiction Centers, both Suboxone and Subutex are considered safe, effective ways to relieve detox symptoms however, due to the presence of Naloxone in Suboxone; the medication has a higher success rate for successful sobriety.
Toughing It Out
Even though controlled tapers are popular in helping people successfully detox from medications and heroin they aren’t the only way. Some people dislike the fact that they could potentially be getting off of a medication only to become addicted to another. In this case there are many medications that can be used to ease the pain of detox without mimicking the high of opioids. Common ones are Cyclobenzaprine, which is used to ease muscle aches and pains, Zofran, which is used to prevent nausea, and Clonidine which decrease rapid changes in blood pressure. All of these medications are not controlled and are non-narcotic, however they do require a prescription and should only be taken as directed.
On very rare occasions some people believe that the only way to stay off of drugs permanently is to feel every bit of the withdrawals. In cases like this there is very little you can do to help ease the pain. Some at home remedies are eating small amounts of chocolate to help increase the dopamine and serotonin levels, a cold compress on the forehead to ease headaches and hot baths to soothe aching muscles. Whether it is with Methadone, Subutex, Suboxone, or just good old cold turkey, getting off of opioids is never easy. It is highly recommended that when the detox phase is complete patients should check into a sober living facility or proceed with a twelve-step program in order to achieve long-term sobriety.