Our twenty three years of treating men and women who are chemically dependent on drugs and alcohol have taught us that relapse is often part of the recovery process. The title of this article being “Suboxone Failure..” does not indicate that we consider relapse as “failure,” but is intended to underscore the more effective and proper use of Suboxone- as a component in a complete program of recovery (as outlined in our last blog entry Suboxone Success Story from Johnny O).
Jane Doe was a female client who came to Sober Living by the Sea and started out being prescribed Vivitrol (the brand name for Naltrexone – an opioid receptor antagonist). Jane was not truly invested in getting clean and sober and actually figured out when she could use heroin during the Vivitrol cycle to feel the effects of the drug most and did so. After using heroin, Jane left treatment against medical advice and went “on a run” for a period of time.
Jane came back for treatment and at that time, the clinical team decided to start her on a Suboxone program after having seen it used successfully in other client’s treatment programs (you can read about “James” and his positive experience with Subutex in our last blog entry).
Jane was given a medium dose of Suboxone – the same dosage that many of our other clients have had and successfully used to help manage cravings and begin a successful program of recovery. Jane didn’t take the opportunity to begin a program of recovery and instead relapsed on heroin. When Jane returned to treatment yet again she was given the opportunity to integrate Suboxone into her treatment program and yet again did not take the opportunity to get a sponsor, participate in a program of recovery, or focus on the many opportunities to personally grow from her therapy sessions or learn from the educational workshops that are a part of every client’s treatment schedule at Sober Living by the Sea. Jane ended up leaving treatment at Sober Living by the Sea for good after this final relapse.
Johnny O. juxtaposes Jane’s sad story against the successful suboxone treatment experience that another client “James” had to underscore his strong opinion that Suboxone can be useful when it is used to complement a comprehensive treatment curriculum like those offered in Sober Living by the Sea’s various Treatment Programs. Johnny O. feels that using Suboxone or Subutex by itself may reduce cravings and allow the person who had become dependent on using barbituate drugs like benzodiazepene, codeine, heroin, OxyContin, and Vicodin to experience short term sobriety. However, without complementing the Suboxone with a treatment program that addresses the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of recovery, the person will most likely eventually succumb to their cravings and relapse.