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Treating Opiate Addictions With Opiates?

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Treating opiate addictions, by using pharmaceutical drugs like methadone and Suboxone (or buprenorphine) have been well entrenched as treatment and recovery options for almost a decade now. Better known as opioid replacement therapy, this medical option has received a great amount of positive and negative attention. The ethical question is obvious: what justifies a prolonged use and medical approval of these drugs? Is it even justified? Let’s explore some of the issues.

Am I in Recovery or Back in Addiction?

Most detox programs utilize some sort of opioid replacement therapy in order to mitigate the adverse withdrawal symptoms. Professional and medically accredited treatment facilities will approach individuals with individual detox programs tailored to specific and personal withdrawal symptoms. It is up to the medical doctors and staff to determine if opioid replacement therapy is appropriate for the individual. Methadone has arguably been the most dispensed historically, with proprietary clinics operating exclusively to facilitate the drug. Suboxone has enjoyed a more discreet existence: prescribed by internists and pain management doctors for out-patient type therapies and for pain medication alternatives.

The reality is that since opiate addictions span 100’s of years, so even modern medical permutations of the drugs should be handled professionally and responsibly. There have been many reports concerning the abuse of these opioid replacement drugs, along with legislation in various states to control the dispensing of these drugs, methadone in particular. They are again, opiates, and addictive pharmaceuticals at that. As effective as replacing hard street drugs like heroin or the highly addictive prescription OxyContin, Opana, or RoxyContin with methadone or Suboxone, the counter-intuitive question remains: why would you treat an addiction to these opiates with other opiates? Conventional wisdom would seem to put the brakes on any long term usage of these opiate replacement drugs and limit them only to obviate the harsh withdrawals. If you are looking for recovery options or treatment centers, this should be a question to ask.

Thinking Ethically and Logically

From an ethical perspective, how damaging is it for someone to quit doing all these other opiates to recovering under the auspices of a doctor’s prescription to other opiates? Exchanging one addiction for another is certainly not uncommon, but exchanging one drug for another of the same family is dangerous and disputably negligent. Make sure you and a loved one research thoroughly the best treatment options available, with a long term perspective in mind. One should not want to escape the pot only to find that they have escaped into a frying pan!

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