Have you been a victim of Suboxone shaming? Has someone told you that you should not be taking Suboxone for opioid addiction treatment?
Alternatively, maybe someone has focused on the Suboxone dosage that you are prescribed, telling you that you are taking too much. This is dose shaming or dosage shaming.
Everybody is different, and not everyone responds to medication in the same way. Some people start out taking 8 mg of buprenorphine daily. Others start at 16 mg, which is the more common starting place in medication-assisted treatment.
However, in some cases, 20 mg to 24 mg of Suboxone is the appropriate starting place where a patient gets the best results, with minimal withdrawal sickness and cravings throughout the 24-hour period.
Some people taper quickly, reducing their Suboxone to lower and lower dosages during their initial year of treatment. Other people do best to stabilize for a longer period of time at a specific dosage.
Dose shaming and Suboxone shaming are wrong and can be damaging to a person’s recovery. Talking non-stop about quitting Suboxone and getting off Suboxone to someone who is doing well with medical therapy can have tragic results.
Are your family and friends telling you how to quit Suboxone when you have just gotten started?
They say that the grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence. It’s bad enough when we are hard on ourselves for not living the seemingly better life of other people around us.
Yet, beating ourselves up for our perceived failures is nothing compared to how it feels when people around us try to make us feel bad for not living up to someone else’s standard. It is almost inevitable that, if you take Suboxone, someone is going to say to you at some point that some other person was able to kick their opioid habit without Suboxone.
Or, they will tell you that someone they know took Suboxone for a short time and stopped, staying opioid free long-term without any trouble. Imagine how it feels, when you are having great success in a Suboxone program, to have trusted loved ones tell you that it seems like everyone else is doing great without Suboxone.
Anecdotal cases about getting off Suboxone do not tell the whole story.
When you are looking for a person to set an example, you can almost always find someone. It is true that there are people who overcome addictions spontaneously with no help or minimal help.
Unfortunately, these people are a very small minority. If most people were able to quit opioids by going to meetings or a short stay in detox, there would be less of a need for medication assisted treatment programs using Suboxone.
Also, in many cases that you may hear where a person was able to successfully kick an addiction to a powerfully addictive street drug, there is often another side to the story. Maybe that person quietly turned to alcohol as an alternative.
Another possibility is that they had a very difficult time quitting and barely made it through. Even if someone in the world has quit opioids easily without requiring Suboxone or other medical treatment, it does not in any way make them better than anyone else.
In recovery programs, they often ask that members take their own inventory. What does it mean to take your inventory? It is just like working in a store, walking through the aisles, looking at what you have in stock.
Taking a positive inventory can help to give you a better perspective on your life.
You think about your life experiences and write down a list of positive and negative qualities that you possess. While 12-step sponsors seem to often want to focus on the negative, I would rather focus on a positive inventory, looking at strengths and talents.
What are you good at? What have you accomplished in life that you are proud of? No matter how far off-track your life may have gone recently, chances are that, if you think about it, there are things about yourself that are quite impressive.
When it comes to people who suffer from addiction to substances or other types of addiction, this is nearly always true. Exceptional people are more susceptible to becoming addicted and they have more difficulty breaking free from addictions.
When your mother, father, sibling, or spouse tells you about this person that they know who was successful at Suboxone quitting or never needed Suboxone to quit opioids, don’t jump to the conclusion that the person they are talking about is somehow better than you. Consider the possibility that your need for ongoing Suboxone therapy may indicate that you have superior traits that the people around you choose to ignore for some reason.
Avoid the dangerous kratom lottery.
Since we are discussing the danger of peer pressure to quit the medical therapy prescribed by your doctor, we should also discuss a dangerous trend where friends and family start recommending street drugs to help you quit your medical treatment. I have only seen bad outcomes when people try to use the street drug kratom to help them quit an opioid addiction or to help them in weaning off Suboxone film or tablets.
Kratom is derived from plant sources and is sold as a greenish, yellowish powder. Most people describe it as having a nasty taste. When someone gets hooked on Kratom, the disgusting powder is everywhere, in their clothes, their car, and their living and work spaces.
Kratom acts as a relatively weak opioid. Users quickly develop tolerance and, without some discipline, are tempted to take greater and greater amounts to get the same feeling from it.
Often, users of this dirty, plant-based street drug find themselves having cravings for their opioid of choice. They start to justify why they should give up the unsatisfying feeling of craving and have just one more run with heroin, fentanyl, or pain pills.
As you can imagine, kratom use can lead to a tragic opioid overdose. When someone dies from shooting up too much street fentanyl, was it the fentanyl that killed them or the Kratom that their loved-one recommended to them?
You may read this and say that you know kratom can work to help people quit opioids or Suboxone. Maybe you know someone who had a good experience with kratom. I can say that I know of many people who have had a bad experience with it.
Do you really want to take a chance in the kratom lottery to see if you are one of the few who will be able to quit opioids with it? Just because it worked for your son or uncle, or a guy at the office, do you really want to take that chance with this unregulated, barely legal street drug?
What about the famous 7 day Suboxone taper?
How do you respond when a family member tells you that they know people who have quit Suboxone in a week? They simply Googled Suboxone taper and found a way to quit in a week or two.
The question is not if it is possible, but is it a good idea to suddenly quit your opioid addiction treatment medication? How can you tell that you are ready to finish treatment?
Quitting Suboxone should first be discussed with your doctor. Looking up an online guide and using that as your Suboxone treatment plan rather than working with your Suboxone doctor is a recipe for disaster. Just because getting off Suboxone was easy for some anonymous online author does not mean that you should start playing around with your medical treatment.
Do Suboxone doctors keep their patients on Suboxone for too long? The field of medication assisted treatment with Suboxone is still relatively new. For two decades, we have had the opportunity to evaluate many patients and see what works and what does not.
Evidence supports long-term treatment with Suboxone being superior to the short-term taper.
Overwhelmingly, the consensus among addiction specialists is that the short-term taper, often performed in medical detox facilities, is not a good idea. Using Suboxone to detox a person from opioids and then take away the Suboxone within a week can lead to ongoing opioid cravings.
Addiction specialists have observed that patients do best when they continue with their Suboxone treatment for at least one year. Is it possible that some patients would do fine with only six or nine months?
Yes, it is possible, but without a way to reliably identify who will do best within six months, 12 months, 18 months or 36 months, we must often err on the side of caution. So, the current rule of thumb is to recommend at least a year of treatment and re-evaluate regularly after that.
When a patient has been in treatment for a significant period of time, their brain has a chance to heal on a longer time scale. Their life changes to where they are less likely to seek opioids. They have had a chance to undergo therapy and get treatment for other mental health issues.
Do not let Suboxone shaming or dose shaming rush your Suboxone timeline.
What works best for you is what works best for you. I have seen people achieve unbelievable success in life while on Suboxone therapy.
I am certain that these successful Suboxone patients would not trade their lives to be that person who can stand up in front of a meeting and brag about how they kicked an opioid habit without Suboxone. For them, Suboxone was a key ingredient in helping them to reach their goals.
When the time comes to stop taking Suboxone, after a solid year or more of treatment, you should have the discussion with your doctor. Your doctor will help you to make the decision in conjunction with your psychotherapist.
Fortunately, in today’s world, we are becoming more aware of the toxic nature of shaming. We see the harm that comes from shaming people for being who they are. Making someone feel bad about not living by someone else’s standards is malicious and harmful.
If you notice that people in your life are shaming you about your medical treatment, you might want to consider leaving those people out of your life in the future. Is it possible to explain to them the negative, harmful effect they are having on you? Can they change? Or is it simply time to move on.
Surround yourself by people who support you in your goals to be successful in recovery.
You may have heard that your success is partly defined by the people who you allow to get close to you. Imagine how life would be if you were surrounded only by people who supported you in reaching your goals and in being successful in life. How would it feel to never get shamed by someone close to you?
I realize that avoiding toxic people is not always as easy as it seems. If you are being shamed by a spouse who is the parent of your young children, you may find it difficult to just get up and walk away. The same goes for your parents or other close relatives. Breaking ties with close family is not easy and not always the best solution.
If you feel that you are being Suboxone shamed or dose shamed by loved ones, or shamed in any other way relating to your addiction or other areas of your life, consider the possibility of individual therapy and possibly family therapy.
Having the perspective of a doctor of psychology or psychiatry can make all the difference. Of course, when it comes to friends and acquaintances, breaking ties is much easier. You do not necessarily need the help of a psychologist to break off communication with a toxic group of friends.
Think about designing a better life for yourself, free of bullying and shaming.
If your issue is in the workplace, you may want to carefully work with your employer to see if the issue can be resolved. If you work for a large company and you are being shamed by co-workers, going to the human resources department may be a good option to resolve the issue. Bullying should not be tolerated in the workplace.
Smaller employers who do not understand the seriousness of the issue and some large companies with toxic work environments can make it impossible to find a way to get along with coworkers when you are caught in a bullying, shaming situation. If necessary, you may want to look for alternate employment.
In the short term, making big life changes can be scary. It might seem easier to put up with toxic people who bully and shame you over medical treatment and attributes that you cannot easily change on command.
However, over time, you will discover that you can design a life where you do not have to submit to people who try to pull you down. You have a right to not be shamed. You have a right to find success in life in the way that works best for you.
If Suboxone treatment is an important part of your life right now, helping you to function at your best, then you have the right to not have people around you shame you over evidence-based, proven medical therapy.