Are you considering alternatives to Suboxone® to detox off of pain medication? Learn how to detox safely off of Suboxone® at the Coleman Institute with The Coleman Method.

Opioids for Pain Management

COVID-19 aside, the landscape of family practice has changed dramatically in the last few years, especially regarding prescribing medication for patients with chronic pain.

The CDC reports that starting in 2006, the total number of opioid prescriptions dispensed continued to rise until it peaked in 2012 at “more than 255 million and a prescribing rate of 81.3 prescriptions per 100 persons.”

Since then, the opioid prescribing rate has declined, falling to the lowest in 13 years by 2018. However, that was still a large number by any measure, coming in at more than 168 million total opioid prescriptions.

The research consistently proved that the cons of prescribing potent and addictive pain medications were much higher than the pros.

As the reality and fallout from these prescribing habits continue to be revealed, many family practices opt to cut down or completely stop treating chronic pain with opioid pain medication.

More like this: When Pain Medication Becomes a Dependency


Alternatives to Opioids for Pain

This has been tough for patients who relied on these types of medications for years. In most cases, they have taken their medications precisely as prescribed. It is often equally difficult for many practitioners who believe this to be a good and helpful component of a comprehensive family or internal medicine practice.

Some doctors will help their patients with a slow taper where the provider prescribes lower and lower doses of the opioids at each visit. Depending on the amount of pain medication a patient is on. This may be a very protracted but safe solution for how long they've been on it.

Some people have access to switching to a pain management practice. This, of course, depends on insurance, out-of-pocket costs, and the availability of this specialty in the patient's area.

Often people are being switched from short-acting pain medication to long-acting opioids such as Suboxone®.

More like this: What If I'd Never Stopped Using Suboxone

Long-Term Use of Suboxone® and Buprenorphine Products

Other patients who are being transitioned off pain medications are prescribed one of the several available buprenorphine products. Suboxone®, Subutex, and Zubsolv are just a few. These products are actually partial opioid agonists; they may cause some mild euphoria but much less than short-acting pain medications like oxycodone and hydrocodone and their "family," heroin, fentanyl, tramadol, etc. Buprenorphine products such as Suboxone® can also last at least 24 hours, again eliminating the need for dosing with a short-acting medication.

Switching from short-acting pain medication to a buprenorphine product is relatively simple. First, however, you must find a doctor who has acquired the prescribing credentials, as this is a highly controlled medication.

Patients will often ask, "Well, isn't it substituting one addictive drug for another when you go from Percocet to Suboxone®?"

More like this: Why is it So Hard to Detox Off of Suboxone and Other Forms of Buprenorphine?


Suboxone® Withdrawal Symptoms

Medications containing buprenorphine will result in physical dependence when used regularly for some time. In addition, if a person stops taking Suboxone®, they will experience opioid withdrawal symptoms, which may last for an extended period of time.

What About Stopping Pain Medications Altogether?

Other people consider this an opportunity to see what life might be like without being on pain medication at all:

  • The freedom of never worrying about losing a prescription or the medicine itself
  • Of not having to plan vacations or travel (remember when we could travel?) around a doctor’s appointment
  • Enduring the judgmental looks from the new or substitute pharmacist
  • Risking one more visit to the doctor and another potential exposure to COVID-19
  • Trying to get a shy bladder going in the clinic
  • Finding out if one’s pain is that much better being on these drugs

Suboxone® Alternatives to Detox Off Pain Medication

This growing recognition of the overuse and relative ineffectiveness of using opioids for chronic pain management has brought people from around the country to our clinic. At the Coleman Institute, we offer an Accelerated Opiate Detox (AOD), a safe and comfortable form of rapid detox. Our detox program helps people get off their pain meds by compressing and addressing their withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the amount of pain medication a person uses, our outpatient detox program will generally last from 3 to 5 days.

A cornerstone of The Coleman Method is our use of long-acting naltrexone in the form of a two-month implant after the detox. Naltrexone occupies the opioid receptors, eliminating physical cravings for opioids and eliminating withdrawal. In addition, as naltrexone is a pure blocker or antagonist, it does not produce dependence or tolerance. Therefore, there is no withdrawal when stopped or when the implant completely dissolves.

You can find more information on our Naltrexone Therapy FAQ page.

More like this: How to Detox off Suboxone® With Naltrexone

Life Without Suboxone is Possible

Over the past 12 years working at the Coleman Institute, I’ve treated thousands of patients dependent on opioid pain medication. They are often quite nervous about how they will feel when they have no more opioid medication—after all, their doctors put them on it for pain in the first place.

Remarkably, when queried in the months following our rapid detox procedure, our patients almost invariably describe manageable pain levels by simply using over-the-counter (OTC) medications or mind-body techniques such as yoga and mindfulness-based programs.

It is frightening for a person to consider stopping a medication they've depended on for years. If you would like to learn more about The Coleman method, please call our office at 877-77-3389 or schedule a callback.

Until then, stay safe!

Joan Shepherd, FNP