Opiate withdrawal is usually so intense that addicts find it hard to quit heroin or pain killers without the help of some kind of medication. In many cases, methadone has proven to be problematic as a medication for heroin addiction because it can become addictive. Recovering heroin addicts can end up with a dependency on methadone or even a fatal overdose from the medication. Buprenorphine is a new alternative to methadone that so far has had promising success rates for people seeking medication for opiate withdrawal. This new medication is effective at diminishing withdrawal symptoms and is reportedly less habit-forming than methadone.
Buprenorphine vs. Methadone
Buprenorphine is also known by its commercial name, Suboxone, and this medication is one of the biggest developments on the drug treatment front in the past decade. People looking for an alternative to methadone are drawn to Suboxone because has been proven highly effective as a maintenance therapy for those addicted to heroin or opiate pain killers. Buprenorphine gives addicts the ability to feel "normal" while going through opiate withdrawal so that they can function in their daily lives. The new medication reduces painful withdrawal symptoms and also helps diminish some of the intense cravings that can make heroin addicts so prone to relapse. The biggest benefit of Buprenorphine is that fact that it works effectively to manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms but can be much harder to get high off of than methadone. Because it is safer in this respect it can be easier for patients to get prescriptions to use the medication at home. Addicts trying to legally obtain methadone usually have to travel to a clinic for each dose so they can be closely monitored throughout their treatment. Buprenorphine users are free to take the medication privately because it will not intoxicate them.
Another of the main reasons that people prefer buprenorphine is that it can be easier to gradually ease off of than methadone. Most people who are using methadone for their heroin addiction end up using it as a long-term maintenance therapy and it can be difficult to get off medication completely. Methadone can be harder to detox from than buprenorphine which patients can use to reduce doses and eventually be drug-free. Some methadone users even switch to buprenorphine to help them detox and stop using methadone completely. Buprenorphine is also presumed to be safer than methadone if patients end up overdosing. The new medication has been shown to reduce the number of heroin overdoses in many U.S. communities and foreign countries as well.
Restricted Access to Burprenorphine
One of the biggest problems with buprenorphine, however, is that there are more restrictions for physicians prescribing the drug. Some addicts find it hard to get access to Suboxone and end up driving long distances to be able to obtain the medication. When the drug was approved it came with certain limits along with it entering the market. Doctors need to attend lengthy training sessions prior to prescribing the drug and also are restricted to prescribing it to no more than 100 patients at a time. The regulations also forbid prescriptions for the drug to be provided by physician's assistants and nurse practitioners who are often the primary health providers in rural areas. Because of these rules and restrictions, many addicts find it hard to get the prescription they need to treat their heroin addiction. For those that are able to use this alternative to methadone it has high rates of success for allowing people to get through withdrawal and ease off the medication. When more people are able to gain access to this new option, it could be a positive change in treatment methods for heroin addiction.