Switching from Methadone to Suboxone During Opiate Withdrawal

If you are taking methadone for opiate withdrawal, it’s possible to switch to taking Suboxone instead. However, methadone is a more potent, longer-lasting opiate maintenance medication than Suboxone. So, making the switch from methadone to Suboxone can be tricky. It’s important to do it right.

Understand the Differences Between Methadone and Suboxone in Opiate Withdrawal

Though both methadone and Suboxone are used to treat opiate withdrawal in recovering addicts, they are very different. Suboxone, which contains the main ingredient buprenorphine, is a short-acting partial opiate agonist. Methadone, on the other hand, is a long-acting, full opiate agonist.

What this means is that methadone is much more potent than Suboxone. Because it is a full opiate agonist, methadone can continue to stimulate the opioid receptors in the brain, no matter how high of a dosage you take. This is why laws and regulations regarding the use of methadone to manage opiate withdrawal are so restrictive; methadone has a high potential for abuse, because taking more than your prescribed dose can get you high.

Suboxone, on the other hand, has a much lower potential for abuse, because its partial opiate agonist action means that it will only stimulate the brain’s opioid receptors so much; there’s a built-in limit to its effects. Once you’ve reached the dosage ceiling for Suboxone, you’re not going to feel any further effects, no matter how much more you take.

Methadone also stays in your system much longer than Suboxone. It takes at least 36 hours for methadone to leave your system, and in some cases could take as long as 96 hours.

Benefits of Switching from Methadone to Suboxone

Both methadone and Suboxone have their benefits and drawbacks, but for many recovering addicts, Suboxone is the preferable treatment. Because methadone is so potent, it’s a great option for recovering addicts who are accustomed to taking large doses of opiate drugs; for these recovering addicts, Suboxone may not provide enough relief from opiate withdrawal symptoms, at least not initially. However, many recovering opiate addicts on methadone maintenance eventually want to make the switch to Suboxone. The benefits of Suboxone for opiate withdrawal include:

  • No more methadone clinics – This can be especially helpful if you live far away from a clinic, or if you find that going to the clinic puts you under too much temptation to use the illegal opiate drugs or other drugs. Drug dealers like to hang out at methadone clinics, because they know that’s where the addicts are.
  • Privacy – Suboxone allows you to receive treatment for opiate addiction in your doctor’s office. You’ll no longer have to deal with the stigma of attending an opiate maintenance clinic, because no one will need to know that you’re in opiate maintenance treatment except you.
  • Convenience – Since Suboxone has a much lower potential for abuse, you can more easily keep a supply of it in your home to treat your opiate withdrawal symptoms at the time and place that’s right for you. That means you can go out of town for work or a vacation, and free up time you would’ve otherwise spent traveling to and from a methadone clinic and receiving treatment there.
  • Dignity – Many recovering addicts using methadone to treat opiate withdrawal symptoms find the process of attending a methadone clinic to get their medication humiliating. Unfortunately, the authorities tend to treat opiate addicts like criminals. You won’t have to deal with that if you switch to taking Suboxone.

Making the Switch from Methadone to Suboxone

When you start taking Suboxone, it’s important that you be in full withdrawal before you take your first dose of the drug, or else you might experience a severe form of withdrawal known as “precipitated withdrawal.” Because methadone is so much more potent than many other opiate drugs, including heroin, you’ll have to wait longer after your last dose of methadone before you can start taking Suboxone. So, you might experience somewhat more discomfort when switching from methadone to Suboxone than you would if you were seeking treatment for prescription painkiller or heroin addiction.

Furthermore, you’ll have to taper down to low dose of methadone before you can begin taking Suboxone with any success. Opiate addiction specialists recommend that you taper down to a daily dose of 20 to 30 mg of methadone before you begin taking Suboxone. This way, your transition to buprenorphine can be as comfortable as possible.

Do not attempt to transition from methadone to Suboxone without speaking to your doctor first. If your withdrawal symptoms become too severe, it could put you at risk of relapse.

You don’t have to take methadone for the rest of your life; now there’s a better option.

Call us today at 888-415-0708 to learn more about switching from methadone to Suboxone for opiate maintenance. 

Delray Beach Psychiatrist Explains Why Some People Behave Badly When They Enter Recovery

Most people who enter addiction treatment with a Delray Beach psychiatrist improve their behavior once addiction is no longer the driving force in their lives. An active addict will do anything to feed his or her addiction, even if that means hurting his or her friends or loved ones. But once that addict enters recovery, he or she often feels contrite and remorseful of the things he or she did to hurt his or her loved ones while he or she was struggling with active addiction. Starting a new, substance-free life means behaving with integrity, caring for others and being self-supporting – for most people.

But some people enter addiction recovery and continue behaving badly, and doing so often. Some people continue to struggle with the emotional and psychological issues behind their addictive behavior even after they enter addiction treatment with our Delray Beach psychiatrist. Some recovering addicts may continue to act out because of high expectations they had for getting sober, because they are struggling with strong negative emotions, because they have unrealistic expectations of others or simply because they are jerks.

Recovering Addicts May Expect Too Much from Recovery

Some addicts who enter treatment with our Delray Beach psychiatrist may expect that addiction recovery will solve all of their problems. Indeed, 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous can make some lofty promises regarding what addicts can expect once they enter recovery. To quote from the Big Book, “We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness…That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.”

While the 12-step program, in conjunction with addiction treatment from our Delray Beach psychiatrist, certainly can offer much of value to recovering addicts, passages such as this can set some pretty high expectations for recovery. The truth is, merely getting sober will not solve all of an addict’s problems. Deep-seated emotional problems, psychiatric problems and financial problems will take much hard work in recovery to repair. The addict who goes into recovery thinking that getting sober will solve all of his or her problems, as if by magic, is setting him or herself up for disappointment. Some recovering addicts react to that disappointment by acting out.

Emotional Recovery Is Necessary

Recovering from addiction isn’t just about giving up alcohol or drugs. It’s also about changing the attitudes, behaviors and beliefs that lead to addiction in the first place. For some people, addiction recovery means working with our Delray Beach psychiatrist to treat mental health issues that may be contributing to the substance abuse problem. Recovering addicts who fail to do the emotional work necessary to achieve real happiness and sobriety may continue to say sober, but they won’t be happy about it. These recovering addicts remain trapped in a destructive and damaging cycle of negative behavior and beliefs. They may continue to struggle with anger, rage, guilt, fear and other negative emotions that hold them back. They may have unrealistic expectations of those around them, and struggle with judgmental attitudes that make it difficult to treat others with caring and respect.

Delray Beach Psychiatrist Says Some People Are Just Unpleasant

Addiction drives many addicts to behave badly and treat others badly, but this behavior improves when they enter recovery and regain control of their lives. But our Delray Beach psychiatrist points out that some people would behave badly and treat others badly even if they weren’t struggling with addiction. These people will naturally continue to behave poorly even after they enter addiction recovery. All the treatment in the world can’t turn a fundamentally nasty person into a nice person. Of course, that doesn’t mean such a person doesn’t deserve to receive addiction treatment, recover and go on to live a healthy and fulfilling life. But you may not want them to do it around you.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, addiction treatment with our Delray Beach psychiatrist can help you or them rediscover the person you or they once were.

Call us today at 888-415-0708 to learn more.

New Research on the Effects of Opioid Abuse Could Revolutionize Florida Rapid Detox

Prescription opioid painkillers have been one of the driving factors behind America’s opiate addiction epidemic. These painkillers, and the ease with which prescriptions for them could be obtained until very recently, have played no small role in the development of the heroin addiction epidemic that is killing dozens in every part of the country and leaving treatment centers like our Florida rapid detox facility struggling to keep up.

However, painkillers bring relief from pain for many who are suffering with both acute and chronic pain conditions. New research from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has revealed new information about the way that opiate abuse affects the brain. Researchers hope not only to be able to develop new prescription painkillers that are less addictive, but to devise new treatments for opiate addiction that could make the treatments currently offered at our Florida rapid detox clinic more effective.

Researchers Identify Protein Implicated in Opiate Addiction

Researchers working at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine have pinpointed a protein implicated in the mechanism of opiate addiction. Opioid use changes the activity of this protein, RGS9-2, which in turn leads to changes in both pain relief threshold and opioid tolerance. Researchers experimented with the effects of both blocking and increasing the activity of this protein.

When the researchers blocked the action of RGS9-2 in mice addicted to morphine, they found the mice experienced both a lower threshold for the pain relief response and a lower tolerance for the drug. When the researchers increased the protein’s activity, however, they found that the opposite occurred – the mice demonstrated a higher pain relief threshold and developed a tolerance for morphine much faster.  The changes were noted in the nucleus accumbens, a central component of the brain’s reward center.

People find themselves in need of our Florida rapid detox program because of the way that opiate addiction interferes with the brain’s reward center. Opiate drugs stimulate the brain’s reward center to cause a euphoric rush, in much the same way as do endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and other neurotransmitters. In non-opiate addicted individuals, pro-survival behaviors, like eating, exercising and having sex, stimulate the brain’s reward center. When opiate addiction takes hold, as it has for those we help in our Florida rapid detox program, it hijacks the brain’s natural reward response system, interfering with the brain’s ability to produce endorphins and forcing the addict to rely on opiate drugs.

Discovery Could Revolutionize Pain and Addiction Treatment and Florida Rapid Detox

Dr. Venetia Zachariou, lead researcher on the study, believes that the results of this study could revolutionize both the treatment of chronic pain and the treatment of opiate addictions in programs like our Florida rapid detox program. The addictive potential of opiate drugs means that alternatives are needed to treat pain. People who suffer chronic pain, people at a high risk of addiction, people with a history of substance abuse problems and people who are currently struggling with an opiate addiction need a pain relief solution that does not carry a risk of addiction.

In the future, the researchers hope that, by manipulating the action of RGS9-2, they can improve the analgesic effects of opioid compounds while decreasing the risk of addiction. In addition to improving the analgesic effects of morphine in the addicted mice, the researchers were able to stop addictive behaviors in the mice by blocking the action of RGS9-2. This technique could someday help the specialists at our Florida rapid detox clinic to more effectively treat opiate addiction and prevent relapse.

Opiate drugs, in the form of prescription painkillers and heroin, have been destroying lives and families throughout the country for years. The tragic death of Hollywood icon Philip Seymour Hoffman earlier this year highlighted the need for more effective opiate addiction treatment and relapse prevention. Hoffman had been sober for 23 years before he relapsed into the addiction that would eventually claim his life.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an opiate addiction, get help now. Call our Florida rapid detox clinic today at 888-415-0708 to learn more about our addiction treatment and dual diagnosis programs.