Stopping opiates such as heroin, morphine, oxycodone, or hydrocodone can be nearly impossible once you start using on a regular basis. Opiate addiction causes physical and chemical changes in your brain. These changes cause severe physical and mental withdrawals once you decided to stop using. These cravings and withdrawals are almost always the reason why people relapse and go back to drug use.
Using medications to treat opiate addiction can drastically increase your chances of staying sober. Medications such as buprenorphine stop the cravings and physical withdrawals that contribute to relapse. Medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, provide a whole-patient approach to the treatment of opioid dependency. When taken as prescribed, medications used to treat substance abuse are safe and effective.
Numerous studies have proven that using medications to treat substance abuse is more effective then therapy alone. After 6 months, relapse rates of people using medications to treat opiate addiction are roughly 20-30%. Relapse rates for people not on medication are around 90%.
Buprenorphine is the latest advancement in opiate addiction and considered the top of the line treatment for substance use disorders. Buprenorphine works on the opiate receptors in the brain, so it stops the physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings that are common in opiate dependency. Because the cravings and withdrawal symptoms are gone, it can be easier to stay motivated and not use opiates.
The two most common brand names are Suboxone or Zubsolv and are available by prescription at your local pharmacy.
Approved by the FDA in 2018, buprenorphine is now available in a once monthly injection, Sublocade. Using Sublocade can increase your success in recovery. It works the like Suboxone films or tabs but without the hassle of remembering to take you medications daily.
Naltrexone is an opiate blocker used opioid use disorder. It comes in a pill form or as a once a month injection, Vivitrol. Naltrexone binds and blocks opioid receptors which reduces opioid cravings.
To reduce the risk of precipitated withdrawal, patients must be clean from all opioids for a minimum of 10 days before starting naltrexone.
If a person relapses and uses opiates naltrexone prevents the feeling of getting high. There is no abuse and diversion potential with naltrexone. It is not addictive and does not cause euphoria (the feeling of being “high”).