It is estimated that nearly 1 million people in the United States are addicted to heroin, and another 1.4 million are addicted to some other form of opiates, including prescription painkillers.
In the 1960s, methadone gained popularity as a means to overcome heroin addiction. The drug is highly addictive but does not have the same side effects as heroin. Because of the addictive nature of methadone, it is a controlled substance administered only in specialized clinics.
Further research led to other classes of drugs that are opiate antagonists, which block the opiate brain receptors. In 1984, the FDA approved naltrexone for “reversing the effects of opiate overdose.” However, “poor treatment adherence has hampered its utility to promote abstinence.”
Then in 2002, two new medications entered the list of opiate antagonists used within the treatment setting. Suboxone combines an antagonist (naloxone) with a partial agonist (buprenorphine) and Subutex contains only the partial agonist. Both have proven to be highly effective in treating opiate addictions and withdrawal without the side effects of methadone.
Questions about detox?
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At Lakeview Health Systems, our doctors are constantly looking for new approaches to help people with the drug detoxification process. In our medically based drug detox center, Suboxone or Subutex can be administered during a detoxification protocol as an intervention for patients suffering from opiate dependencies. A slow decrease in the Suboxone or Subutex dosage is required to minimize withdrawal symptoms.
Administering Suboxone or Subutex alone will not address issues related to drug use. Studies illustrate that long-term treatment for drug addiction offers patients better potential outcomes. Follow-up drug addiction treatment is necessary to address why, how, where, and when a patient would use. In other words, Suboxone or Subutex use should be accompanied by a comprehensive treatment program that includes behavior modification, relapse prevention, dual diagnosis treatment (if indicated), family counseling, and a range of other topics relevant to drug use and to living a clean and sober lifestyle.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine consensus statement argues that
“treating opioid addiction and detoxification alone is ineffective.”