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Sober Nation

Putting Recovery On The Map

08-21-19 | By

Should You Take Suboxone?

Good morning. What’s up, Sober Nation? Tim here. Happy Monday.

I am going to tackle a touchy subject on this video and I was thinking the last 20 minutes if it’s even worth doing this because of all the potential controversy and heated discussion and negative comments that this subject always seems to produce when we talk about it. So before I even get started, the first thing I’m going to do is I’m going to ask everybody who watches this video to keep it cordial in the comment section. We don’t need anybody flipping out. I don’t need to ban anybody. This can be an actual discussion between people where we can share our different experiences for what worked for us and what didn’t work for us.

So with that being said, today I want to talk about medication assisted treatment. When I think of medication assisted treatment, I think of it kind of in two different sections. There’s the Vivitrol route, which is essentially like a shot or I think in some cases they even have… I don’t know what you call it, like something that you kind of stick into your body and you leave it in there. And that is a much more preventative route where you put it in there and it keeps you from using in the first place. And then there is what I guess I consider like the maintenance route, which is more Suboxone and methadone. And although you can compare those two against each other, I think underneath they still fall under the kind of Suboxone maintenance program, methadone maintenance program. So I think in that way that they’re similar.

And my view is that addiction recovery is very complicated. And I think when we look at different ways to recover, we have to think of what the different outcomes of recovery look like because the outcome doesn’t always have to be 100% clean and sober, no alcohol, no drugs, no nothing, just complete abstinence lifestyle. For some people, and I think in a lot of ways, a positive outcome could be, “Hey, I just want it to be at a point where I could go to work every day and I could provide for my family and I wasn’t going to treatment 14 times in a year.”

We have to think about that stuff. We have to think about it in context because if somebody’s trying over and over and over again to build a abstinence free lifestyle and they keep failing, well, that’s no good for that person in their life and it’s also no good for our society as a whole because then what happens is emergency rates go up. What happens is that person can’t keep a job, which means that they can’t contribute to society both from a production standpoint and just from a tax standpoint. They become a burden. If you look at it no one motions, taking all the personality away from the person and you look at it from just a number, that particular person becomes a burden on society from a financial standpoint, from a family standpoint. It’s not good. That stuff is not good.

So if Suboxone can help people get to a point where they can become productive, where they can be an active participant in their own lives, I think that anybody with any real sense would see that as a positive. Now, we’re not just putting blinders on here. What are some of the downsides? Obviously Suboxone gives people an opportunity to essentially replace one addiction with another. And I think one of the real potentially harmful things about it is it’s not even just replacing addiction, it’s replacing addiction with this kind of permission. People in some way can get to a point where other people in their support network are supporting their substituted addiction.

I know that’s kind of hard to digest, but I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen it where a support network is like, “Oh my God, what are you doing? You got to get off these drugs. You got to get your life together,” and then all of a sudden, they’re on Suboxone and they’re potentially abusing it. But that same support network can be supporting them in this new destructive behavior. And that’s not good either. That’s really not good. I’ve really seen it go both ways. I’ve seen Suboxone drastically help people improve their lives. A few people in particular who are really close to me, I’ve seen it work wonders for them. I’ve seen them try so hard over and over and over again. And I’ve seen them approach Suboxone maintenance with a lot of shame and a lot of guilt because other people didn’t necessarily support their decision. And I’ve seen them really come through and get jobs and show up to work every day and show up for family events and go to places that they say they’re going to go when they say they’re going to get there.

Like I talked about before, I’ve seen Suboxone help people become active participants in life and society. And I’ve seen people get hooked on Suboxone. No doubt about it. I’ve seen people go to treatment for heroin, get Suboxone, and then go to treatment for Suboxone. And that’s bad. That’s not a good thing.

So look, what I want to do is avoid the whole discussion about corrupt drug companies because that’s a whole separate conversation and it’s one that I’m certainly willing to have, but in the case of this video and the point I’m trying to make is that recovery is not a black and white issue. We can’t look at it from this is a success and this is a failure and there’s nowhere in between because life doesn’t work that way. And we have to be realistic about that. Life is very complicated. Decisions are very complicated, trauma is very complicated and all of these things play a role. They play a role in how people view themselves and how and what recovery is going to look like for them.

Lastly, the thing about Suboxone that we have to touch on, and this is my own personal experience, but I think that this statement I’m about to make is probably replicated so many times that there’s going to be at least a dozen people who watch this video that say, “Yes, that happened to me too.” And if that’s the case, then we can consider this a pattern and not just some fluke in my own life. But every time one of my friends have died from heroin overdoses in particular, it always looked the same. It was always they’re an addict, they get treatment, they get help, they go all in on most likely like a 12 step fellowship and they started living this abstinence lifestyle. And that’s great. I’m fully advocating that. I mean look, I did not take Suboxone. I did not go on a maintenance program. I got sober through a fellowship and it changed my life and I’m very, very grateful for that.

But the point I’m trying to make is that one of the dangers of that is it’s like a technical thing because when you don’t do heroin for six months and then you relapse and you do the same amount of heroin that you’re used to doing, holy shit, you fucking die. And we have to understand that when it comes to opiates in particular, which by the way, Suboxone is used for. When it comes to opiates in particular, there’s just a different kind of technical element that we have to understand. It’s not like alcohol. If you relapse on alcohol, it’s… I mean, what? Keith Moon, I think, drank himself to death in one sitting or in one night. What you would call like an alcohol overdose. I’ve never heard of that happening. I’ve definitely heard of like other people dying from alcohol and other ways, but more than likely, alcoholism is going to lead to a long drawn out, long term period of suffering.

It doesn’t work that way with heroin. With heroin, it’s bam, you’re dead. And I often wonder… I think about it a lot. I often wonder what it would have been like if instead of just going all in on abstinence right away, they would have gotten on some kind of maintenance program and just given themselves a year. Just got through that year, got through the fight.

I don’t know. I don’t know what that would’ve looked like. And I think about it a lot and especially when I was talking about before, the people that I know who have done it, who have had successful recovery through Suboxone maintenance or whatever, that’s what it looked like for them. They gave themselves a year, they gave themselves a shot, they had a plan and it worked and now they’re just living good lives.

Sorry, one second. I guess when I smacked my hands together, I made my camera crooked.

So here’s my advice and here’s my personal stance and I guess, and I’ll say the stance of Sober Nation as an entity. Have a plan. Don’t just say, “I don’t know what else to do. So I’m going to do Suboxone.” If you’re going to go on a Suboxone maintenance program, have a plan. Tell other people that you’re on it, get your family involved. Maybe hypothetically you could say, “I’m going to do this for a year and throughout that year I’m going to continuously progress in my life.” Whether that means a job, whether that means getting better at keeping your commitments, whether that means attending meetings while you’re on a Suboxone maintenance program. And by the way, if you’re somebody out there who is saying that you don’t belong in a 12 step beginning because you’re on Suboxone, get over yourself, kind of shame on you type thing. This person’s doing what they got to do to survive and the fact that they’re willing to show up to a meeting means that they have the willingness to go forward.

So the advice is to have a plan. I know plenty of programs you have a year long Suboxone maintenance program that includes… I’m sorry. I’m blanking for the word. That includes slowly weaning yourself off of it over the course of that 12 months. And while you are doing that, having a therapy or a treatment program that’s going to coincide with that slow weaning off of the drug. I think that makes a lot of sense.

If you can, live a life of abstinence. If you’re an addict, if you’re a real addict, an alcoholic and you know in your heart that there’s no way you could ever fuck around with this anymore, you have to just… You can’t live that kind of life. How I know I am. I just, I can’t fuck with it. I need to be 100% abstinent with all mood and mind altering substances. If you can do that, then do it. If you think you need help and you think you need to be on a maintenance program, then do that, but don’t do it blind. Understand the dangers involved and be honest with yourself about that because I’ve seen people ruin their lives on Suboxone just as easily as I’ve seen them ruin their lives on heroin or coke or crack or whatever.

It’s important. This is an important discussion to have and I genuinely look forward to the cordial and respectful comments in this video. Thank you for listening. Thank you so much for being a part of Sober Nation. I can’t even tell you guys how much I appreciate all of you. God bless. I’ll talk to you next Monday. See you later.

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