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Suboxone: concerns behind the miracle

Summary and Analysis…

A relatively early report from a doctor who has detoxed patients from opiates as well as Suboxone when it has been misused. Although he has used Suboxone in his practice, he has seen problems with it and difficulties in detoxing patients from it so severe that he charged more than twice as much for Suboxone detox as for OxyContin detox.

Excerpted from Addiction Professional

Excerpts:

“Suboxone detox makes the physical aspect of the disease manageable, but does not help with the emotional and spiritual consequences of addiction.”

“The misuse of Suboxone and the lack of attention to the problem are causing physicians untrained in addiction medicine to feed into overprescribing. Many do not understand the long-term ramifications of Suboxone addiction, and it also is a very lucrative business for the prescribing physician. Many doctors charge $200 to $300 monthly, per patient, for a 5-to-10 minute checkup to renew a Suboxone prescription.

“Most places prescribing Suboxone maintenance do not offer any addiction treatment because the doctor is not trained in addiction medicine and because it is not time- or cost-effective to do so. Furthermore, the lucrative nature of Suboxone on a maintenance basis creates a disincentive to tapering the drug and its income-generating potential.

“As a point of comparison I charge $2,000 for a detox from OxyContin or methadone, taking about three weeks. A detox from Suboxone dependence costs $5,000 because it takes four to five months, incorporating about 10 different medications to detox the patient successfully. The success rate for detox from Suboxone is much lower than that for detox from other opiates because patients tend to give up hope during the lengthy withdrawal process.”

Also, a comment on the rush to embrace Suboxone without complete studies:

“Most Suboxone studies follow post-detox patients for only a month and are often funded by the drug company that manufactures Suboxone. There are no long-term studies of Suboxone maintenance. I learned myself about the potential disadvantages of Suboxone maintenance from meeting people in my practice who have been on it for years.”

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