Anyone who is struggling with opiate addiction, be it heroin or vicodin or oxycontin or something else, should strongly consider going to inpatient treatment.
Because if they are a struggling addict then the progression of their disease is only going to create more and more chaos and misery for them. Their only real hope is to arrest their disease of addiction and find a different way to live their life.
Any opiate addict who is still struggling with their addiction is stuck in denial. Even if they admit to having a problem, they are still in denial. You may be wondering how it is possible to still be in denial when you openly admit that you are addicted to something. You see, it is denial of the solution. The person admits to having a problem, but they remain in denial of the solution. They hesitate to go to inpatient treatment and actually fix their problem.
Now you may also be wondering what Suboxone is and how it might help a struggling addict. Well, suboxone is a medication that is used to help an opiate addict to maintain abstinence from other opiates. It is similar to the idea of taking methadone maintenance in order to stay off of heroin, but suboxone is different because it is not a full opiate in the same way that methadone is. Instead it is only a partial opiate and therefore it does not really produce the same level of euphoria and intoxication that methadone and other full opiates produce.
I would suggest that if an opiate addict is struggling and they have already been to inpatient treatment several times in the past then that person might be a good candidate to explore medication assisted treatment. At some point you have to try something different, because what you have been doing has not been working for you.
That said, the counter argument to this is that the only thing that really matters is your level of surrender. In other words, if the struggling opiate addict has fully surrendered then they will stay clean and sober this time no matter what solution you offer them. On the other hand, if they have not fully surrendered and they are still hanging on to a bit of denial in some way then they are bound to relapse at some point no matter how hard you try or how many resources you tap into.
The bottom line is that opiates are powerful drugs and they can be very, very difficult to escape from. If you need to look into something like suboxone in order to break free then that might be the best path for you to explore. Ideally, you would want to do both: Start your recovery by checking into an inpatient treatment center, then explore the idea of taking suboxone medication as a means of helping you to maintain your recovery.
I would caution you though against this particular mindset, or attitude, that seems to get addicts into trouble: If you secretly hope and expect that taking suboxone is going to solve all of your problems when it comes to your addiction, then that is setting yourself up for failure.
Now you may be saying “wait a minute….I thought that taking the suboxone medication would help me with my cravings and make them go away, thus making it easier for me to recover from addiction.”
Well, yes and no. That is the basic idea behind taking the medication. However, the attitude of the opiate addict who is going into this seems to matter even more than the actual treatment that is given. In other words, if you are expecting and hoping for suboxone to be a miracle drug then you are probably going to be disappointed. The fact is that you still have to work a program of recovery, you still have to do the work, you still have to figure out how to overcome some of your triggers and urges on your own.
If the struggling heroin addict goes into rehab and then gets put on suboxone maintenance, but then does nothing else for follow up and goes right back into the same old environment then they have little chance of staying clean, even in spite of the suboxone medication. It is not a miracle cure and it cannot overcome some of those driving forces that are setting you up for failure such as: Not working any recovery program, not working the steps, not doing therapy or counseling, hanging out with your old group of friends, and so on. If you continue to put yourself in harm’s way and you fail to follow through with aftercare post-treatment then you cannot expect for suboxone to carry you through to recovery. It just isn’t that powerful, it isn’t that strong.
Think of all of the different components of your recovery journey, to include inpatient treatment, counseling, therapy, NA meetings, changing your peer group to people in recovery, suboxone maintenance, and so on. If you are doing it right and giving yourself a real chance at recovery, then suboxone maintenance will be about one tenth of your efforts. The other 90 percent of your effort has to come from things such as treatment, counseling, meetings, sponsorship, and so on.
Most newcomers in recovery hear about suboxone maintenance and it is like a little light bulb goes off in their mind and they think: “I am fairly smart and capable, and if I get this suboxone medication then it will take away my physical urges and cravings, and I should be able to handle the rest as far as recovery goes.” And I am telling you now: It doesn’t matter how smart or capable you are, and it doesn’t matter if you have a strong will or you are very determined, if you are not doing all of the work in recovery, if you are not fully engaged in that other 90 percent of activities: The counseling, the therapy, the step work, the sponsorship, and so on–then you setting yourself up for failure. It won’t work and you will relapse.
Unfortunately this is what most people end up doing in early recovery when they first hear about MAT and suboxone. They instantly believe that it will somehow solve all of their problems and essentially cure their addiction without any additional effort on their part. And unfortunately it is just not that powerful and it doesn’t work that way.
Furthermore, if you work in the field of addiction recovery, you will start to see the results of this little experiment first hand. The struggling addicts that are screaming the loudest for suboxone tend to be the ones who relapse, and the people who are truly focused on recovery efforts as a whole tend to do much better, whether they end up on suboxone or not. Keep in mind that is just by own subjective observations, but I have watched a lot of people come and go in recovery, and I have watched a lot of people relapse.
So my suggestion to the struggling opiate addict is simple: Go to inpatient rehab. Ask for help and go to rehab. Then, be open minded to the suggestions that you receive, and try to follow through on what they tell you to do. Your success in recovery depends on your ability to get humble and follow directions.