When Brad (not his real name) showed up on the doorstep of Recovery Boot Camp it was clear something was wrong. Not the usual “need to get clean and save my life” wrong, but something even deeper, scarier. To the RBC Team, “need to get clean and save my life” was about as deep and as scary as one can get. This was different. Brad seemed to have reached a new dimension; a wrong beyond all wrong.
“What’s your drug of no choice?,” Brad was asked.
“Opioids -- percocets, dilaudids, oxy. But I’m off all that now.”
“Then why are you still exhibiting withdrawal symptoms?”
“Because I just spent the last seven days detoxing with Suboxone,” replied Brad. “And it’s made me feel much, much worse.”
Brad wasn’t kidding. Suboxone is exponentially more insidious to kick than any opioid, whether it comes from the pharmacist or the street dealer. That's why RBC neither prescribes nor endorses it. Ironically, Suboxone is one of the quick-fix drugs most prescribed by facilities that employ Medication Assisted Treatment. Oh, it got Brad off opioids alright; it probably even kept him from dying. Problem was the detox got him addicted to something even worse.
RBC's policy has been and always will be to treat addicts after they've detoxed. Unfortunately, we are often forced to make emergency exceptions for those who arrive still testing positive for narcotics. When that happens, a client gets assigned to stabilization, and they won't be released into the actual Boot Camp until they're free of addictive drugs, of every sort.
After three days in RBC’s Stabilization Unit however, Brad still exhibited withdrawal symptoms. Not as acute, perhaps, but far more extreme than the norm. The cold sweats, the gut-wrenching aches, the muddled mind, all still existed to a degree far more severe than the average opioid withdrawal, and much more insidious than those who come in having completed RBC's requisite pre-arrival detox.
Two weeks later, Brad still suffered the symptoms -- physiological as well as mental. And it would be a full two months of extensive therapy before he could finally begin to sleep the sleep of the newly clean and sober.
Unfortunately, Brad’s case is not unique. If anything, it represents something heretofore thought downright anathema in the recovery community -- that is, using addictive drugs to get people off of addictive drugs.
Yet, Medication Assisted Treatment regimens employing Suboxone and its ilk are increasingly being used to fight the Opioid Epidemic. It matters little whether said increase stems from state and federal legislatures allocating a windfall of additional funds to MAT facilities or pressures applied by the legions upon legions of families seeking a quick fix for their loved ones; what matters is such treatment very often tends to create more problems than it resolves.
We here at Recovery Boot Camp believe getting addicts hooked on other addictives such as Suboxone is not only counter-intuitive, it’s counterproductive. And our clinicians will never prescribe a medicine which worsens the cure. In fact, absent an underlying mental health issue, no new drugs will ever even enter the equation. We believe abstinence, backed by comprehensive therapy and an intensive working of the 12 Step Program, is the right and proper way to recovery. And, as thousands of clients can attest, it’s a wonderful way to recover a life.
Just ask Brad.