MEDICATIONS FOR OPIATE ADDICTION RECOVERY

SUBOXONE | VIVITROL | METHADONE

SUBOXONE (buprenorphine and naloxone)
SUBOXONE Film is a narcotic medication indicated for the maintenance treatment of opioid dependence, available only by prescription, and must be taken under a doctor's care as prescribed. Suboxone contains a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone.
      -Buprenorphine is an opioid medication. Buprenorphine is similar to other opioids such as morphine, codeine, and heroin however, it produces less euphoric ("high") effects and therefore may be easier to stop taking.
      -Naloxone blocks the effects of opioids such as morphine, codeine, and heroin. If Suboxone is injected, naloxone will block the effects of buprenorphine and lead to withdrawal symptoms in a person with an opioid addiction. When administered under the tongue as directed, naloxone will not affect the actions of buprenorphine.

Possible Side Effects:
Buprenorphine and naloxone can cause drug dependence. This means that withdrawal symptoms may occur if you stop using the medicine too quickly. Withdrawal symptoms may also occur at the start of treatment due to dependence on another drug. Buprenorphine and naloxone is not for occasional ("as needed") use. Do not stop taking buprenorphine and naloxone without first talking to your doctor. Your doctor may want to gradually reduce the dose to avoid or minimize withdrawal symptoms.

Personal History:
Suboxone was very effective in my personal journey to get clean. Although the drug can be abused, if you take it as it's intended, it has the potential to help stop cravings and get you on the way to leading a normal way of life. Cost per 8 mg strip is around $8 without insurance. With insurance, you can get an entire prescription for around $35, or so. The target dose for Suboxone maintenance is  between 8mg to 16mg's per day. Strips come in 2mg and 8mg.

VIVITROL (naltrexone injection)​
VIVITROL is a prescription injectable medicine used to treat alcohol dependence, and to prevent relapse to opioid dependence, after opioid detoxification. Vivitrol (naltrexone) blocks the effects of narcotic medicines and alcohol. Basically, if you're taking Vivitrol and you use opiates of any kind, you won't get high. The naltrexone in Vivitrol will block any euphoric feelings you might get from using. That's why you need to be very committed to getting clean and it's used along with a complete management program.Vivitrol injection is injected into a muscle. Vivitrol is usually given once a month (every 4 weeks) and can be given only by a doctor or nurse in a clinic.

Possible Side Effects:
Vivitrol may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert. Do not use narcotic drugs or alcohol while receiving Vivitrol. Never try to overcome the effects of the medication by using large doses of narcotic drugs or alcohol. Doing so could result in dangerous effects, including coma and death. Ask your doctor before using any prescription or over-the-counter medicine to treat a cold, cough, diarrhea, or pain while you are being treated with Vivitrol. These medicines may contain narcotics or alcohol.

Personal History:
I have never used Vivitrol, but I hear it is very effective in opiate addiction management. It also helps decrease cravings.

METHADONE
Methadone is used to relieve moderate to severe pain that has not been relieved by non-narcotic pain relievers. It also is used to prevent withdrawal symptoms in patients who were addicted to opiate drugs and are enrolled in treatment programs in order to stop taking or continue not taking the drugs. Methadone is in a class of medications called opiate (narcotic) analgesics. Methadone works to treat pain by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain. It also works as a substitute for opiate drugs of abuse by producing similar effects and preventing withdrawal symptoms in people who have stopped using these drugs. Oral doses of methadone can stabilise patients by mitigating opioid withdrawal syndrome. Higher doses of methadone can block the euphoric effects of heroin, morphine, and similar drugs. As a result, properly dosed methadone patients can reduce or stop altogether their use of these substances.

Possible Side Effects:
Like other narcotic medicines, methadone can slow your breathing, even long after the pain-relieving effects of the medication wear off. Do not stop using methadone suddenly, or you could have very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Call your doctor if you miss doses or forget to take this medication for longer than 3 days in a row. Do not drink alcohol or take benzos(Xanax, Valium, Klonopin) while taking Methadone. Methadone can increase the effects of alcohol, which could be dangerous. Check your food and medicine labels to be sure these products do not contain alcohol. Methadone may impair your thinking or reactions. Avoid driving or operating machinery until you know how methadone will affect you.

Personal History:
I took Methadone for five years directly after rehab. I also took it during detox to help with the withdrawals from heroin and other drugs. It helped immensely. I didn't plan to stay on the drug for five years following treatment, but I was very new to recovery and perhaps very scared to get off the stuff. Although it was a pain to go to the clinic every day and pay $20 each morning for the medication, it helped me regain regularity in my life. I was able to work, go to school, rebuild relationships, and most importantly, stay clean. I eventually tapered down from my highest dose of 165mg's to 2.5mg's and eventually switched to Suboxone. It wasn't easy getting off Methadone, as the withdrawal effects were pretty brutal. It was all worth it though. I guess you could say it was the lesser of two evils, the other evil being shooting heroin up my arm and destroying my life.
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