With the recent statements toward drug use, misuse of pain medications, and addictions in general, it is easy to focus on the negative perception toward addiction. Questions that are most often raised are: Why can’t they simply stop? What is so hard about it? Isn’t all the addict has to do is just not be around those people that use? Are they not really trying to be sober?
Sadly, it is much harder to become sober or simply put down the drugs than most can imagine. Many of the recent users, however, did not start by experimenting with different drugs, proven by the fact that this percentage of the population has decreased. In fact, most recent users actually started after being prescribed pain medications and then self-adjusting their dose as they personally feel their pain levels increase. The problem actually occurs as they adjust this needed medication dosing, causing their tolerance level to increase to the point where more medication is needed to achieve the same results. This mental pull to prevent the pain or to increase dosing levels causes the body to build not only a biological tolerance, but also a psychological tolerance to the medication.
The feeling of shame that is created within those with an addiction, and then the judgment that follows, can feel like an impossible task in the hopes of attaining sobriety. However, by coordinating medically supervised pharmaceuticals with counseling techniques, we can attain rewarding outcomes as we find ways to both mentally and physically deal with these addiction habits.
Many of the talk therapy types (cognitive therapy, rational emotive behavioral therapy, and others) have made positive steps toward working through the mental aspect of addiction. However, the biological aspect remains.
A drug called Methadone was first introduced and assisted many individuals with opiate addiction. Sadly, however, it was also found that Methadone had a high addiction potential and misuse. After many years, another medication, Suboxone, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, which was originally used for pain treatment, was found to also block the absorption of other opiates and had a low to no addiction potential. For those patients who were or who could become pregnant or are allergic to the naloxone in the medication, another medication was formulated, Subutex. Newer drugs developed include Bunavail & Zubsolv. These work on the principal of accomplishing the same desired results as the original Suboxone at a significantly lower dose, and therefore hopefully decreasing the risk of unwanted side effects.
With the combination of the talk therapy provided by our counselors and the medication treatment prescribed by our certified Suboxone Physician, I have personally seen improvements with my patients and more positive outcomes than with only one of these techniques used alone.
Thank you in advance for letting us help.
Steven Alexander Wilson is the Director and Primary Counselor at Alex Wilson Counseling Services in Greensboro, NC.