How long will I be taking Suboxone?

How long will I be taking Suboxone?

How long will I be taking Suboxone?

How long will I be taking Suboxone?  This is a common question and a difficult one to answer.  Every new patient asks this question. It is, of course, reasonable.  When you decide that you want to quit taking drugs and finally be done with them, you don’t want to be told that the best way is to replace your drugs with another drug.  Yet, the fact is that for many people who are addicted to opioids such as heroin and pain pills, the safest way to get clean is to transition to Suboxone under the care of a qualified doctor.

Addiction is a powerful destructive force.

It uses an addict’s own intelligence and creativity against them. The best intellectual tools you have to protect yourself in dangerous situations are nearly useless against the disease of addiction. As the NA literature states, addiction is “cunning and baffling”.  If you are addicted to drugs, you can hardly trust your own thoughts.

The people that you can trust, such as family and friends, may not know the best solutions to recommend. Addiction is a complex condition and only recently do we in the medical community have newer and more advanced tools to use in the treatment of certain types of addiction, such as opioid dependence.

When a doctor tells you that you may need to be on Suboxone for a long time, you may reflexively resist.

You will come up with reasonable justifications to reject this recommendation.  You want to be clean of all drugs.  If you have to take Suboxone, you want to be done with it as fast as possible.

The fact is that in the many years of experience in using Suboxone and similar medications to treat addiction, we have learned that long term maintenance works best. 

This means that you should plan for at least several months.  This should be considered to be a minimum.  Many patients benefit from at least one year of treatment.  Some continue for multiple years of treatment.

So, when is it time to stop?  When can you finally stop taking the Suboxone? 

Going to the doctor every month and buying a prescription at the pharmacy is time consuming and expensive.  You don’t want to feel like you are permanently on medical treatment, especially when it seems like you should be able to just stop and use will power.

Will power tends not to work for very long in the case of addiction. 

What does work is dedication to ongoing therapy to get yourself better.  Medication alone only fixes part of the problem.  When you start Suboxone, you should also start seeing a therapist, such as a psychologist, who has experience with opioid dependence treatment.  You should also go to group meetings regularly, such as NA or AA.  You should get a sponsor in the program you attend.

By taking care of yourself and engaging in a well rounded program of recovery, you will find over time that you will be finally ready to taper off of and quit taking Suboxone. 

It will not happen overnight.  Again, as they say in NA, you did not get addicted overnight, so, easy does it.  When you and your therapist and possibly your sponsor have done significant work and you are certain that you are finally ready, then your doctor will work with you to start a tapering plan.  You may also discuss with your doctor other medical options for ongoing supportive treatment to help prevent relapse.  I hope that this helps to give some insight into why you may have to take Suboxone for at least several months. 

It takes time to address and fix the problems that cause you to take drugs. 

It takes time to put the tools in your toolbox that will help you to fight the cravings that will arise periodically throughout your life.  You can definitely stay clean from drugs and also stop taking Suboxone.  It just takes time and a good plan.

If you would like to discuss this topic further, please call me, Mark Leeds, D.O., at 954-776-6226.  I am an osteopathic physician in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and I have dedicated my practice to helping people who are dependent on opioids to quit drugs and get their lives back on track.