The answer to this question depends on whom you ask.

There are those who define recovery as the complete abstinence from any mind-altering drugs. And Suboxone®, a medication that combines the opioid buprenorphine with the blocker naloxone, does activate opioid receptors but it produces a smaller response. It relieves drug cravings without the high or dangerous side effects caused by other opioids. Regular use can lead to physical dependence.

So, can it really be considered recovery if I’m taking it?

Perhaps this is not the right question to be asking. The more relevant question may be: What beliefs and behaviors can best support your recovery, to live a life in the service of what you value?

According to Richard Rohr, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, “Bill Wilson saw 'emotional sobriety' as the final culmination of the Twelve Steps. Full sobriety is not just to stop drinking (drugging), but to become a spiritually awakened person who has found some degree of detachment from your own narcissistic emotional responses.”

For years the Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine has specialized in Accelerated Opioid Detoxes to help people get off and stay off opioids* such as oxycodone, hydromorphone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, heroin, kratom, and methadone, as well as buprenorphine. After clearing opioids from the body, we use long-acting naltrexone in the form of an implant or injection. This treatment is an excellent choice for many people and continues to be an available option at all the Coleman Institute offices around the country.

But as awareness of the opioid crisis has exploded over the last several years, so has the opportunity to understand more about the disease of addiction, particularly Opioid Use Disorder. This growing body of knowledge reinforces over and over again to those of us in the medical addiction profession that treatment is not a "one-size-fits-all" phenomena.

And while historically the Coleman Institute’s focus has been on treating Opioid Use Disorder with long-acting naltrexone, we have always had a few patients on buprenorphine (e.g. Suboxone®, Zubsolv® or Bunavail®). These patients have found that this treatment allows them to manage all the moving parts in their own lives, putting attention on the most important areas, and eliminating drug-seeking behavior.

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We are pleased to share that our treatment options in the Richmond, Virginia office are expanding to include buprenorphine treatments as we welcome the expertise of Applegate, our affiliate also devoted to helping people achieve their life goals through Recovery. Their proficiency in treating patients with Suboxone dovetails beautifully with the philosophy of the Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine to work with our patients where they are and to provide the best options for sustainable, long-term recovery.

Choosing any of the Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) options requires careful consideration of each patient’s unique circumstances. We welcome your call at 877-773-3869 as you navigate through these complexities.

Joan R. Shepherd, FNP

*We also offer a medically-assisted alcohol detox for people whose drinking is at such a level that it is dangerous to stop abruptly.

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