Heroin and Suboxone: Are they the same?

Heroin and Suboxone: Are they the same drug?

There are articles online proposing that heroin and Suboxone are no different. They make this argument by going down the list and checking off similarities. Both are opioids. Check. Both have abuse potential. Check. And, both heroin and Suboxone have a physical withdrawal syndrome. Hence, heroin and Suboxone are the same. Therefore, doctors are essentially prescribing heroin to drug addicts.

It is time to wake up.

As we go about our daily lives, feeding on social media curated news, we experience low level outrage and complain to our circle of friends about what is going on in the world. We are outraged about politics, entertainment, local news and more. We read an article that tells us how rogue doctors are flooding the streets with Suboxone films that are worse than heroin. In some states, lawmakers have taken this propaganda seriously and have significantly limited access to life saving, evidence-based medical treatment for opioid addiction.

Suboxone is not heroin. Not even close.

If you have had experience in using heroin and then getting clean with the help of Suboxone treatment, you already know this. Heroin addiction is a terrifying nightmare. Your life is on the line every time you snort or inject the drug. You are at risk for dangerous infections, heart damage and deadly overdose. Almost no one who has died from a heroin overdose was expecting to die. They thought they would always survive using heroin right up until the end. They thought they knew how to avoid the pitfalls that killed all of the other users.

Prescribed Suboxone use is not addiction. It is the new recovery.

Going from Heroin to Suboxone is a miracle for many people. One day, you are fighting off sickness and constantly obsessed with getting more drug. The next day, the obsession is lifted. Your thinking clears up. You feel almost back to normal. The way you felt before heroin. Over time, you will continue to improve, getting back to normal life. And, you will enjoy life again. This is not addiction. In fact, it has been called, “the new recovery.”

If Suboxone is not addicting, why is it so hard to quit?

Suboxone does cause physical dependence. This is not addiction. Various other medications that are not addicting cause physical dependence. This includes commonly used blood pressure medications.

Why, if Suboxone works so well to treat heroin addiction, do so many relapse after stopping treatment?

The answer to this question requires a new way of thinking about addiction. Heroin addiction is a real illness. It is known in the medical field as opioid use disorder. This condition requires long-term treatment. Many people stop treatment too soon, against medical advice. In order for treatment to work, it must be continued long-term. It is time for us to see that opioid addiction is similar to other chronic illnesses, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

In conclusion, All forms of buprenorphine, Subutex, Suboxone, ZubSolv, Probuphine, and Sublocade are medical treatments for the chronic illness known as opioid use disorder. Proper treatment includes ongoing, long-term treatment. Patients who use these prescription medications are not “trading one addiction for another”. They are clean and in recovery.

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