Detox Meds: A Means To Recovery?

detox medsThe New York Times published an article online about buprenorphine, one of many detox meds. The users claim it is what allows them to get through the day. In their eyes, it is needed to live a functional life. But, do they really work for long-term recovery?

However, there are some concerns within the first paragraph. Most notable of these concerns is the lack of regulation in dispensing buprenorphine—the active ingredient in Suboxone. The article compares two doctors prescribing the same medication: one a successful expert in addiction but who is also a paid spokesman for Suboxone; the other, a doctor and addict with a checkered past who lost his license, making a fortune on a medication that provides no end in sight.

Both men stand as examples of each side of the issue as prescribers, and each accuses the other type of being in addiction for the money. Yet, neither providing solution that extends beyond “take more detox meds.”

These detox meds are nothing new, of course. In fact, we have been very vocal about our own position on drugs like Suboxone and the so-called “rapid detox.” The very short version is that we are not fans—to put it very mildly.

Why? Because, as recovering addicts, we find that drugs like Suboxone do nothing but perpetuate the addiction cycle by forcing reliance on a drug to function. We find that to be horribly unethical, both from a professional and conscience standpoint.

We do not hold it against the addict himself or herself. After all, a person is ready when he or she is ready. That said, though, we cannot treat someone who is simply looking to collect a script without doing any other work towards long-term recovery.

Make no mistake; as the article shows, there is a lot of money to be made running such an operation. We had the option. However, we would know that we were contributing to addiction, rather than helping treat it, and knew that it was off the table from the start.

Surprisingly (or maybe not), even the doctors with less-than-clean records provide incentives to clients for attending NA meetings. While we are glad that they do so, it also begs the question why detox meds are needed in the first place.

We are no strangers to rough detoxes—far from it. It was something we endured, though, and at least for myself, those times having to kick whatever substance I was on helps keep me clean and sober today. There’s nothing quite like not making it to the bathroom when dope-sick at school…on the day you wore white shorts…

We walk an often gray line here at 449Recovery. On one hand, we prescribe medications because we see that they are necessary to the daily function of some of our clients in ways that have no substitute. On the other hand, there are medications that provide the illusion of freedom, but still enslave; it is a conditional freedom. There is an understood asterisk that, yes, you are free from physical addiction, provided you keep taking these detox meds to keep from withdrawing. Skip it or miss it, and you are in the same world of panic, pain, and misery that you were trying to escape.

In other words, medications like Suboxone are to recovery what house arrest is to “time served.”

Thoughts on Detox Meds?

What is your take on detox meds? Let us know in the comments section!

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