The diagnosis for some of my patients can warrant a prescription of buprenorphine.
The vast majority who get into a serious problem with drugs are good people who never saw dependency coming. They might not be among the 3% who consume all the opioid put in front of them and start looking for more. And perhaps they are not yet to the point where drugs have pushed aside their appetite for sex, shopping, or the Oakland Raiders. But still they’re in a pretty tough show: Lying, crime, and visions of death. For these we now have the right drug.
Many become chronic liars. It’s common for their spouses not to know. They contrive fictitious pains and start shopping doctors — leading them into a full time job visiting healthcare providers for prescriptions. They search the streets for dealers. They are afraid when their opioids go away that those intolerable, unrelenting withdrawals will return.
Once addiction sets in, instead of turning to a healthcare professional, many turn to the streets. Here dealers rip them off at $15.00 for the same pill they can get in a legitimate pharmacy for 40¢. Their physiological tolerance to doing drugs develops until they find themselves taking 10-15 pills per day. To support their $150-$225 per day habit, many take up crime.
Visions of Death
Eventually the mind takes over and tells them they’ll die without their drugs. Without that opioid, of course, they may feel like they’re going to die – or even want to die – but (Good news here!) no one dies from running out of drugs.
The Right Drug: Methadone or Buprenorphine?
- Methadone: A methadone prescription can be appropriate, but its side effects and potential interactions with other medications can be serious, even lethal at higher doses.
- Buprenorphine (Suboxone brand): A German pharmaceutical company developed a trustworthy treatment for nixing those nasty symptoms. It’s quite safe, though any medicine holds the possibility of unusual reactions. In fact one person in our area died from simultaneously injecting buprenorephine and Xanax (alprazalom).
Drug counselors used to just give up on the seriously dependent, and these patients gave up on themselves. Today, however, buprenorphine gives good help for opioid dependency. It frees people from street dealers and medication from family, friends, or self. Even if you or your cousin is a doctor, you shouldn’t be treating yourself.
Talk to me about your problem with pain or drugs. We’ll do a thorough examination and make a careful diagnosis. With or without buprenorphine, my team can help you manage your pain and start up the road to drug independence.
This column is for information and education only and is not intended to be a substitute for seeing a medical provider for healthcare attention. This web site does not diagnose or treat any medical disease, disorder, ailment, etc., or otherwise practice medicine. Always consult your healthcare provider prior to embarking on or making any changes in any medical or psychiatric problems. Dr. Buckmaster does not receive funding from any pharmaceutical company, but is a self-reliant, independent, solo-practicing physician.