No controversy please…

I wrote about this earlier in my blog but me and three others were the only ones reading “A Mom’s Serious Blunder” at the time… Now that I have the eyes of such experienced parents, there is something I have been wanting to talk about and get feed back on.

Please don’t judge me but I am almost sure at this point we are going to try to get our son into a suboxone program.  I no longer believe that choosing not to use is just a matter of will power and free choice.  If this a disease and there is medication that will treat  it…I want him to try it.  I want to hope that there is still a chance at “normal” for him.  Which seems to be the case for many who go on Suboxone…complete turn arounds and happy endings!  I really hope I am not setting myself up for a big fall again.  Ok , ok I am working on that feeling. Really I am.

Any child or adult who has been in rehab or detox has been given Suboxone.  I was always so pleased to hear how good J sounded when he was “in patient” for a handful of days.  J always told me it was the Suboxone but I never really knew what he meant.  I thought he sounded normal and good because he was finally clean, but now I am not so sure.  He explained to me that he felt very normal on Suboxone, a lot like how he felt pre-using days.  His mind was not clouded by constant thoughts of using, not using, craving, withdrawals, panic and anxiety  etc… I felt for sure this was just a another “happy drug” but he swore to me he just felt normal, almost peaceful.  He says there was absolutely no “pay off” or “high”, just a calm  sort of normal and the doctor confirmed those conclusions.

After his last relapse, I started investigating Suboxone in more detail.  Some stories sound almost to good to be true, but I have talked to many and they seem to be genuine success stories.  What I am not hearing is any failures on Suboxone but I find that hard to believe too.  Do any of you wise men and woman have any experience with Suboxone.  Let me clarify that by saying I am looking for people whose children have actually tried it or are currently using it.  I am not afraid to hear all information anyone might have but I have been burned by parents who think they know about Suboxone but really know VERY little specifically about Suboxone.  I do understand that it is an addictive drug but it is not like Methedone. Check out if you are looking for information.

Here are my thoughts:  I do not believe that Suboxone is trading an opiate addiction for another addiction.  I believe it just might be trading a life of addiction, for a life of treatment.  Any thoughts?  This thought was an epiphany  directly from Tom at Recovery Help Desk.

I just recently came to realize how controversial this drug apparently is in the addiction community.  When talking about it in a 12 step chat room, I was shocked how strongly people reacted to my admission that we were looking into Suboxone.


About madyson007

I am a mom of 4 who thought she was home free when my oldest son went off to college. My serious blunder? Genetics and being naive or maybe just plain stupid.
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27 Responses to No controversy please…

  1. Elephant says:

    My son is on suboxone and we are very happy so far. Please, feel free to ask any questions u might have.

  2. Thanks for quoting me in your post!

    I know what you mean when you say Suboxone is “controversial.”

    But I think a better way to describe it would be to say that medication-assisted treatment with buprenoprhine (Suboxone) is stigmatized by people who have PHILOSOPHICAL OPINION about medication-assisted treatment.

    To me, it’s not the treatment that is controversial. What stirs controversy is the refusal of some in the recovery community to accept scientific fact, or to support recovery choices that have been effective for many people.

    It’s funny, you don’t hear Suboxone patients telling people in 12 Step programs that they “aren’t in recovery.”

    Why is medication-assisted treatment so threatening to people in 12 Step programs?

    There is no controversy about the medication itself, or the fact that it is effective for many people. It is well studied and fully supported by US government addiction experts.

    On the issue of “treatment failures” with Suboxone…

    Yes, they do happen, and are not uncommon.

    Usually, the treatment fails the patient because of one of two issues:

    1. The medication is not strong enough to effectively block cravings for some people with a history of heavy opiate use. Buprenorphine dosing includes a “ceiling effect” at which point increasing doses have no additional effect. If this happens, the patient should consider switching to methadone –which permits a larger range of dosing options.

    2. The medication is provided without adequate supports to a person who is not stable enough in their recovery to successfully hold their own medication. In other words, the patient’s recovery is not stable enough for the patient to take the medication as prescribed and/or withstand the temptation to sell the medication (to pay rent, buy food, or buy other opiates).

    In my experience with hundreds of people who have tried medication-assisted treatment, only a small percentage needed the stronger dosing options available with methadone.

    What is much more common, is that the person needed additional supports early in treatment before they were able to successfully stabilize in treatment.

    For this reason, we added a buprenorphine support program to the range of services we offer at the program for opiate-dependent people I supervise at my workplace.

    The support program provides counseling, case management, medication management (pill counts etc.) and drug testing –all provided in a non-punitive, supportive context.

    These are the kinds of services you might want to try to have in place, or add if the person seems to be struggling (of course also making sure they are not being under dosed). The closest thing to a standard dose is 16mg/day.

    If the person does well, but has a relapse (especially early on), consider taking a wait and see approach. If the relapse continues and the person is unable to self-limit the relapse, consider seeking residential treatment at a facility that will allow the person to continue to take their Suboxone while in residential treatment.

    This period of residential treatment (where the medication will be held and administered), is often very effective in stabilizing recovery. In fact, a good way to begin Suboxone treatment is to be inducted (started) while in residential treatment.

  3. Pingback: On Suboxone “Controversy”/Suboxone “Treatment Failures” — Recovery Helpdesk

  4. Pingback: Suboxone (buprenorphine) “Treatment Failures” — Recovery Helpdesk

  5. I am 100% for Suboxone. I researched the heck out of it before my son started using it because he could NOT stop. He had me convinced he wanted to stop but that he was unable and managed to stay clean for three weeks on Suboxone.

    I wish I could say it was the answer for my son at that time. What happened with him is all his friends heard he was on it and he started selling it to them. He didn’t want to tell me he ran out so he started using heroin again. So, it did not work for him. He was not ready.

    You’ve probably checked out Suboxone Talkzone…if not lots of good info there.

    The only thing that finally got my son off drugs was jail and court mandated rehab. He was not ready at that time either, but I think just getting enough clean time helps you think clear enough to really want to stop (for some).

    He has 6 months clean. Do not lose hope. I remember wondering if my son would ever be able to live a normal life, he was throwing it all away, his health, his future, everything. Don’t ever give up on J. Ok, I just realized what my next post is going to be about, it will be dedicated to you! I’ll write it tomorrow.

    Thinking of you!

  6. DAWN M MCCOY says:

    Calamity has tried both suboxone and methadone.

    my understanding is this and maybe tom can shed more light?

    suboxone is VERY effective if the addict is not a long term heavy user, i.e. under a year of addiction. suboxone is easier to wean off of than methadone, and you dont’ need daily visits to the clinic. most patients are seen weekly at first, then bi-weekly, then monthly.

    when my daughter tried it (x2) she was in her 6th year of using. a VERY heavy user ($200 a day heroin habit is really heavy) it was unsuccessful.

    methadone is a more effective solution for long term addicts, however it is very addictive, and most heavy addicts require almost lifelong methadone support. in short, when they stop methadone, they start using.

    she did the other two times she was on methadone. this is her 3rd attempt at methadone. she has been in the clinic for over 3 1/2 years now.

    will she ever get off? doubtful. do i like it. no. do i consider her clean? no.

    is it working for her? kind of. I think that she still uses on top of the methadone, many do. They need a bigger dose of heroin to get high, but they suffer no withdrawals and do not have to use to stop dopesickness.

    it is fairly easy to pass the urine test. the clinics have a call in line to find out if your group is chosen for a ‘random’ test. i don’t know how random it is if you can find out about it 12 hours before the test…..

    there is a product (i do not know it’s name) that they drink which allegedly clears the opiate metabolites that the test looks for out of your system in four hours.

    i also wonder, both suboxone and methadone are sold on the street, it does make you wonder if they can’t get high on them, why are they sold on the streets with such success?

    just my thoughts.

    • madyson007 says:

      Believe it or not I had not heard until today from you and Tom that Suboxone was not as effective or a good choice for someone who was a long term heavy user. I thought it was actually used to ween off of Methedone but I guess the above info would apply. Thanks for that bit of information.

      This confirms that for right now this could be an excellent choice for my son. He has been using for maybe a year and a half, which actually feels like an eternity to our family but I guess in the addict world not so much. He was even able to remain clean for some small chunks of time.

      I hope this can maybe be a piece of the puzzle. I was thinking that I would hold onto his meds and dole them out? Is this enabling behavior behavior or is it self preservation? I am learning to question my motives since I have been reading all of your blogs.

  7. Syd says:

    I wish you the best with your son. I can’t comment on the efficacy of Suboxone. I truly hope that you take care of yourself so that the addiction doesn’t drag you down too.

  8. HerBigSad says:

    I wish I knew more about this subject. I too have wondered if this would help my daughter. What is the cost (ballpark figure) of this medication?

    Continuing to pray that the answers will become clear to you and your son…. and that he will have the willingness for the revealed path!

  9. Sherry says:

    Hello –

    My son used xanax for 5 years and for the last year I found out he was snorting Oxycontin. He put himself on Suboxone for two weeks and he had some withdrawals. I had never heard of it until he told me he was on it. He was clean for 2-3 months after that, but then relapsed. He was in jail for drug possession and is currently in a lock-down rehab.

    When you said, “I am beginning to realize he will not hit rock bottom if it doesn’t profoundly effect his future”, I believe that is what had to happen for my son (I’m hopeful that was his rock bottom).

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your son!

  10. Lou says:

    My son used suboxone with success for several months. He did eventually relapse, but it kept him from using for a time. I consider that a success. Don’t let opinions of others sway you, you are talking about YOUR kid. You don’t get hep C or HIV or infections from suboxone.
    However, suboxone by itself will most likely not work. It should be used in conjunction with therapy and/or intensive outpatient counseling. An addict has to change on the inside. Just because they are not using, does not mean they are recovered. The thinking and behaviors are still there.

    Suboxone has a street value because it is used by addicts to test clean (for parole, etc). It does not show up on a regular drug test, a special, expensive test is needed.

    Also, sudden withdrawal of Suboxone causes dope sickness, just like any other opiate. It needs to be tapered off.

    Good luck, these are rough waters. Keep a life jacket handy.

  11. I’ll first say I don’t know about Suboxone. I wanted to comment just to introduce myself as (yet another) mom dealing with the issues of substance abuse. I just read through your blog from the beginning. I hope you are finding some peace for yourself.
    One of your posts had this sentence: “I can’t understand why a family who desperately wants things to be different continues to do the same thing???” I’ve been working on that one myself. Al-Anon and my blog friends have been the most help. I’ve got a ways to go still.
    As for this particular post, although I know nothing of Suboxone (besides what I’ve read on the internet). I do want to mention two things I thought about as I read this post. Whatever decision you make has to be right for your family, if someone condemns your decision (either way), that is their problem. The other thing is – what does J want? B/c ultimately it will be his decision and responsibility to follow through. (You don’t have to answer this, it’s advice in the form of a question.)
    I wish your family the best in making this decision either way. The more I read, I can see where it is a tough one to make.
    But once the decision is made I recommend, trust God, and don’t second-guess yourself.
    Like Barbara said, do not lose hope!
    God bless you and your family.

  12. Dawn…I agree with your comment. As a general rule, methadone is a better match for people with long term/heavy opiate use. Suboxone is a better match for people with a shorter/less severe history of opiate use.

    But there are often exceptions to the rule.

    Sometimes Suboxone is effective with long term/heavy opiate users too. It’s not easy to predict who will do well, and when. It is worth a try, or two, or three.

    People should be willing to try both if needed (not at the same time!).

    In many methadone clinics, it’s not that easy to falsify drug tests. The tests are “observed” to prevent tampering, and the labs have ways to tell if somebody has taken a substance to try to falsify the UA.

    Do some people manage to get away with false drug tests? Yes! But rarely for long. And active use will lead to missed appointments and other “red flags.”

    Most people in methadone treatment programs are participating and in recovery.

    On the street value of methadone and Suboxone…people choose to buy these on the street for a variety of reasons.

    Many people buy Suboxone on the street for do-it-yourself recovery reasons, and then seek a legit prescription later.

    Also, keep in mind that Suboxone and methadone are cheaper on the street than Oxys. And they can keep a person feeling”well” longer.

    You can feel something of a “high” from Suboxone or methadone if you don’t have a tolerance. But for a person taking the same dose every day as part of a treatment regime it is different. They will not feel high.

    I doubt anyone would choose either over heroin or oxycontin if the primary interest is a rush or a high.

    In a way, we should be grateful for Suboxone that is available “on the street.” Suboxone has little overdose risk, and is the safest choice for an opiate dependent person who is using.

    Methadone has a high overdose risk when used outside of a medical setting (although it reduces overdose risks for people who are in methadone treatment).

    I recently did a post on my blog about the overdose risks and benefits of methadone.

    Lot’s of good comments here. I’d really like to have a group conversation about people’s experience with a family member in medication-assisted treatment. There is a lot to talk about in terms of how these medications may or may not fit into a broader treatment/recovery plan.

    I’ll probably schedule a discussion in the chat room at on this topic in the next week or two. So if you have an interest please join the site (it is free and easy to sign up). You can read a little bit about junkjunk! on my blog (

  13. peglud says:

    Thanks, Tom, for referring me to this blog and comments regarding suboxone. I recognize many of my blog friends here who have commented – I trust their observations and opinions.

    My daughter, Hayley, started using heroin last July and is now back in the crack house where she ‘started out’ in May. She mentioned to me many months ago that she would like to try suboxone.

    My only fringe experience with suboxone was last summer when Hayley was home with me for a few days, waiting to get in to medical detox. We went to see a doctor in town who is the only prescribing physician in town. He talked to me and Hayley, then just to Hayley herself. He seemed very anxious to start Hayley on Suboxone, said he had one slot left. He is allowed 100 suboxone patients. There were fees up front, just for the consult, and I kind of got the impression that there was some financial benefit for him to acquire another suboxone patient. He never laid hands on Hayley, to examine her or even take her blood pressure, even though she was covered in abscesses. The next day, a medical detox bed became available (175 miles away), so Hayley never went back. I just didn’t like how the doctor seemed so detached and ‘smooth’ – and was looking for a patient to fill his suboxone patient quota.
    Also, I couldn’t help but feel that Hayley wasn’t willing to do any ‘work’ regarding her own recovery – – – that she was looking for the easiest way out and just wanted to take another drug to conveniently treat her drug addiction. This all happened last August, after Hayley had only been on heroin for about 6 weeks. I know my perspective on this is a result, in part, of the stigma of drug addiction. I’m learning a lot from Tom at Recovery Help Desk – – – but also feel that I need to see my daughter work at her own recovery. This is all hypothetical at this point – my daughter is living at the drug house and there has been no indication of her wanting to change her life. I learned that the last time she reached out for help, she had been kicked out of the crack house. No wonder she left medical detox AMA.
    It has been great reading all my buddies’ comments.

  14. Lou says:

    thanks for your comment, and I would be happy to be on your blog roll!

  15. I added you to my blog list too. The support is amazing 🙂

  16. Pingback: Talking About Suboxone « DadOnFire

  17. Sally says:

    This is my first time reading your blog so I don’t know your whole story. My son was on suboxone briefly and successfully weaned off of it. He is probably a mild to moderate user (he smokes, is not an intravenous user) and took one pill a day (8-2 mg). He did relapse on it and is now in court-ordered rehab for nine months (YAY!). Just one word of advice. Don’t give him the entire prescription. Give him his required daily dose. There is a good market out there and he will be tempted to sell them so he can get high. Someone asked about the price. Costco sells them for $389 for 60. I believe I paid $100 for 30 at Rite Aid in CA (and that was a deal – I think they felt sorry for me!). Best of luck to you all.

  18. ruthann says:

    please check out these two sites

    Just like with any medication, there are risks involved. Can suboxone be abused? Yes it can, but for people who are wanting to get off of opiates (this includes pain killers and heroin) and have not had much success w/traditional forms of treatment (abstinence) then MAT (medical assisted treatment) is better than the alternative.

    I have not tried suboxone, I am on methadone for opiate addiction and it saved my life. I know several ppl on suboxone and I am a certified MAT advocate which covers both methadone and suboxone.

    Abuse of opiates messes up the chemicals in the brain and damages the opiate receptors. This is why it is so hard for ppl to stay off opiates long after the actual withdrawals are over, the chemical imbalance in the brain is still there. When your son said the suboxone made him feel “normal”, that is EXACTLY what happens. The opiate receptors in our brains have gotten so use to having large amounts of opiates triggering them. When you cut them off totally, they still need the opiates to function and feel normal. That is where MAT comes in…..also know as ORT Opiate Replacement Therapy. Methadone or suboxone is given to fill up those opiate receptors enough to keep the cravings and symptoms at bay without making you high. A STABLE DOSE of methadone or suboxone DOES NOT make the person high. Can you get high from these meds? YES, in someone who is not opiate tolerant, it can cause a high, but most of us who “need” the medication, will not get high from a dose of either one.

    IN MY OPINION I do think you have to have some sort of therapy or 12 step program in addition to ORT meds. Otherwise you are just treating the medical aspect of the addiction without working on the real reason behind the addiction. The real reason behind the addiction is still there and will still be there if/when you ever get off the ORT meds. So I firmly believe that ORT and some type of recovery program go hand in hand.

    Long story short, your son has to want to change or NO treatment program is going to work. If he decides to do ORT with either suboxone or methadone, then support him in any way you can and do not let other ppl tell you what you should and shouldn’t do or make you/him feel guilty for choosing ORT.

    If traditional treatment has failed but ORT works for him then that is the only thing that matters. There is a difference in being dependent on a medication and being addicted to a medication. Diabedics are dependent on their meds, ppl w/high blood pressure are dependent on their meds, people being treated for addiction are dependent on their meds. If they are doing the program right, they are no longer living an addict lifestyle stealing, lying, cheating and spending their entire day worrying and wondering how to get their next fix.

    Good luck. If he does choose suboxone, there are medication programs through the makers of suboxone that will help with the expense of the medication. Check out

  19. anna says:


    My daughter was clean for 6 weeks on suboxone. Then, she started to sell it. When I started to dole it out to her she moved in with a friend. At first, he doled it out to her but eventually he let her sell it to get heroine.

    I know of one friend’s daughter who has been clean for more than a year on suboxone. They can work and lead a normal life on suboxone so I think it is worth a try. Many people in 12 step groups are against it but I am not. It is worth a try or two or three. My daughter got this under my insurance. To my surprise this was no problem. She tells me that medicaid will also pay.

    Methodone clinics often give it out if they think it is a better fit than methadone.

  20. Gal says:

    Suboxone is the only thing standing between my daughter and heroin. Sure, I’d love for her to be able to stay clean without it, but I know that’s a pipe-dream right now. The longer she is able to stay off of heroin, the better chance her brain chemicals have to start working a little better and the more control she might be able to take of her life. To me, suboxone offers hope…and I’ll take it anywhere I can find it!

  21. Akoenig70 says:

    I too am trying to catch up on this whole blog but am interested in any other experiences with Suboxone, maybe Tom can weigh in. My sister went to an out-patient facility for abuse of Benzos (valium, xanax, etc) that prescribed her suboxone. They did not do any type of drug testing, but the paper work she signed had her “promise” to not be on anything else while taking the Suboxone – which as I’ve read can be dangerous when combined. She took the 1st pill with the dr, and then was sent home with another. The next morning my mom found her dead.

    I have been googling and googling to find any other cases like this, and keep coming up short. It seems that people are very happy with Suboxone. This may be the actual outpatient clinic’s error – not urine testing? being closed on Fridays? not calling back the family of a recently deceased patient for 5 days? asking a drug addict to “promise” not to be on drugs??

    I don’t know. But I also don’t know where to turn, or if I have any where to turn. I am sorry for this very long post, but everyone here seems to be very nice and knowledgable. If anyone has any suggestions, they would be very welcomed!

    • madyson007 says:

      I am so sorry to hear about your sister…I have also lost a brother to addiction. I am extremely alarmed to hear they gave your sister Suboxone for a benzo addiction. As far as I know Suboxone is ONLY effective for the treatment of opiate addiction. If what you are saying is all of the facts then they were definitely negligent in prescribing her Suboxone. I am praying you find answers…this sounds tragic. I do know there are people who take Xanax for anxiety while on Suboxone but I have heard the combination can be dangerous. I have no suggestions only sorrow.

  22. gal says:

    I think you’re right, Madyson, particularly since buprenorphine (in Suboxone) is an opiate. I would like to know more about the sister’s death, including toxicology reports. Here’s specific info on Subocone. Anyone can read the whole page at

    What is Suboxone?

    Suboxone contains a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is an opioid medication. Buprenorphine is similar to other opioids such as morphine, codeine, and heroin however, it produces less euphoric (“high”) effects and therefore may be easier to stop taking.

    Naloxone blocks the effects of opioids such as morphine, codeine, and heroin. If Suboxone is injected, naloxone will block the effects of buprenorphine and lead to withdrawal symptoms in a person with an opioid addiction. When administered under the tongue as directed, naloxone will not affect the actions of buprenorphine.

    Suboxone is used to treat opiate addiction.

    Suboxone may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

    Important information about Suboxone

    Suboxone can cause death from overdose, especially if it is injected with a tranquilizer. Use this medicine exactly as directed by your doctor.

  23. tinhih says:

    I do not know why it is controversial. I can only tell you my son traded his suboxy for heron. And honestly, I want my drug free boy back!

    If he has an underlying depression or bipolar issue, then by all means give him medications. Otherwise, give me back my son!

  24. My daughter’s drug of choice is cocaine. But, I don’t think there should be judgment. Anything you do can backfire with addiction. You should be able to try and do your best and not get backlash. We get enough of that from non-addiction experiencing family and friends. We shouldn’t be doing that to eachother.

  25. sue says:

    My 19 year old has been on suboxone for opiate addiction since Jan. It is now Nov., and he is on about 2 mg. per day. Opiate free, working, back in college. I think it saved my son–and should be given out at at a much lower cost!!!! The drs. don’t take insurance, and the pills are pricey–but I( would recommend it to anyone. It gave him a good shot at being clean–willpower was NOT enough!!!

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