Many people in the United States struggle with opioid addiction – or dependence upon heroin or prescription painkillers like Vicodin or oxycodone. Though there is no cure for the disorder, there are a number of treatments that have been proven effective and are currently in use to aid patients in moving forward from addiction.
One of those treatments is the use of medication like buprenorphine to aid in a controlled and slow detox. The benefit? Less intense withdrawal symptoms. The issue? A prolonged and active opiate dependence that may hinder patients from more quickly establishing themselves in sobriety.
Whether or not to use detox medications like buprenorphine is a personal decision and one that should be made based on the individual needs, goals and experience of each patient. What is the most appropriate treatment approach for your loved one?
What Is Buprenorphine?
Buprenorphine is a medication that can partially block the opioid receptors in the brain, in essence making the brain and body believe that a certain amount of their usual dose of the opiate drug of choice is in their system. In doing so, it can limit cravings for the drug of choice, mitigate withdrawal symptoms, and allow the patient to focus on the therapeutic and psychological aspects of recovery. Over time, the dose of buprenorphine is lowered step by step until the patient is completely free of use of all addictive drugs – without ever having to go through the intense illness that characterizes opiate addiction detox.
Pros and Cons
An opiate drug itself, buprenorphine can be abused, even in its Suboxone form – a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. It’s an issue that has spurred an ongoing debate: Is it better to simply detox “cold turkey,” without the use of addictive medications like buprenorphine, or is a slower and more controlled detox a better way to avoid relapse?
Ultimately, the answer will be different for every patient. A study published in the journal Addictive Behaviors recently explored the rate of efficacy of buprenorphine treatment among opioid addicts in recovery. They found that 35.7 percent of the patients in the study completed the six-month treatment, and those who attended counseling were more likely to complete the treatment program.
Findings were significant for the population of addicts who came to opioid dependence due to their treatment for chronic pain. Researchers found that those who had experienced injuries in the past were more likely to complete buprenorphine treatment. Why? Because buprenorphine is an opiate drug, it may offer some pain relief benefits to patients as well – a major issue and cause of relapse in this population.
Is Buprenorphine Treatment Right for Your Love One?
It’s smart to consider every option when determining which will be the most effective choice in treatment for an addicted loved one. However, there is no easy fix or quick way to recovery. Addiction takes time to develop, and it will take time to overcome. With an integrated and personalized treatment program like the one provided here at Axis, anything is possible. Call now to help your family member get started.