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LONG-TERM SUBOXONE STIGMA: MYTH VS TRUTH


Suboxone is an effective and proven treatment that helps those addicted to opiates. Whether this is prescribed on a short-term basis to detox from opiates or as a long-term treatment to keep recovery, buprenorphine-naloxone (Suboxone) helps save lives. Mighty Acorn Counseling offers this treatment for individuals in Ohio by telehealth (online live video and audio appointments) and in-person at our three central Ohio locations.


This article addresses the main myths we hear most often concerning Suboxone treatment. By addressing these myths and providing education, we can help reduce the stigma around this treatment and reach more people to help save lives! The stigma around Suboxone treatment can be dangerous by preventing those who need it from getting the correct social support they need. Our care team has hope that we can help bring light to these myths and stigma, even if one person at a time.




Myth #1:


“Suboxone, or buprenorphine-naloxone, is the same as heroin or other opiates.” or “Suboxone is just government heroin.”


Truth:


“Buprenorphine is a long-acting, high-affinity partial agonist at the mu-opioid receptor. As a long-acting agonist, buprenorphine prevents withdrawal and craving and stabilizes opioid receptors. As a high-affinity agonist, buprenorphine blocks other opioids from binding, preventing abuse of other opioids. As a partial agonist, it has a smaller effect with a ceiling, a low overdose risk, and no intoxication in the opioid-dependent.”

-NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information)


Buprenorphine (Suboxone) only partially fills the opioid receptors and therefore one does not become “high” while on buprenorphine. It acts as a barrier at the same time to block out any opiates from entering the receptors, stopping the use of any opiates while on this medication. It is long-acting and blocks these receptors with a 48-72 hour half-life, which means that even if someone stops taking suboxone for a day (due to impulse), the receptor would still be blocking opiates from entering. There is also a ceiling effect with buprenorphine. If someone tries to take more than the maximum ceiling dosage, this will not fill the receptors and will not produce any feelings of euphoria.


Conclusion:


Although like most medications, you cannot just stop taking long-term buprenorphine without tapering down (as it will produce withdrawals), buprenorphine helps those in recovery feel “normal” and does not get people high. It is a recovery medication that helps people gain their lives back so they are productive members with their families, friends, and the community. It saves lives.




Myth Number 2:


“All Suboxone programs are the same. They want you to stay on Suboxone so they can make more money.”


Truth:


Programs that take insurances, including state Medicaid, Medicare, and low-income insurances, like Mighty Acorn Counseling, do not make a profit from medical follow-up appointments. Insurances pay a minimal fee for these follow-up visits. There is no funding from the drug companies to prescribe this medication either. Most programs that accept state insurances usually bring in just enough to cover overhead expenses to keep the program running. Programs and practices, like Mighty Acorn Counseling, offer this service to individuals to save lives, not to become rich.


Conclusion:


Most full-service MAT programs exist to take care of individuals that need help and implement treatment plans to help each individual.



"...buprenorphine helps those in recovery feel “normal” and does not get people high."

Myth #3:


"You're not clean if you're on Suboxone." or "You're just swapping one drug for another."


Truth:


Just like other diseases, such as diabetes, depression, sarcoidosis, and others, some individuals diagnosed with the disease of addiction may need to take a daily medication that helps keep that disease in remission. Although we refer to the remission of addiction as “recovery”, the fact remains that this medication assists in continuing recovery long term for some. Not everyone with diabetes, depression, sarcoidosis, etc will need to take medication. Imagine a diabetic being prescribed insulin but being peer pressured into not taking it due to the stigma and myths surrounding it. It could harm that individual or even result in death for that individual. The same applies to Suboxone medicated assisted treatment for many individuals. The ultimate decision on treatment should be between each individual and their provider, not stigma.


Conclusion:


When you are diagnosed with the disease of opiate addiction, and a provider feels the need for long-term medicated assisted treatment with Suboxone, you are not “swapping one drug for another”. You are taking a medication to keep your disease in remission.




Getting Needed Help and Treatment:


If you, or someone you know, may need Suboxone medicated assisted treatment, it is important to seek help and work the treatment plan created with an addiction medicine provider and care team. Stigma and myths on this treatment should not hinder anyone from getting it. Society, as a whole, needs to do our best to remove the stigma around a treatment that saves millions of lives every day, especially when this disease is the number one cause of accidental death in the United States. Please look through the resources provided below to start your journey to recovery or to help a loved one right away!



Phone: 614-599-6869

Fax: 614-413-3464

Main/Corporate Office:

3433 Agler Rd, Ste 2100

Columbus, OH 43219

Services:

Full MAT Suboxone program that allows patients to complete intake forms online, complete labs (such as drug screens) at a lab closest to them, see providers by live online video and audio appointments (including medical providers and counselors), have any prescribed medications sent by electronic prescription to a pharmacy closest to them.

Accepts Medicaid: Yes

Accepts Medicare: Yes

Accepts Commercial Insurances: Yes

Accepts Self-Pay: Yes

*ONLY ACCEPTING OHIO RESIDENTS









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