A trusted prescription treatment for opiate addiction, Suboxone, is now prompting fears that the drug itself is addictive and becoming widely abused.
Some addiction experts say the abuse of Suboxone, commonly prescribed to people battling opioid painkiller additions, has reached epidemic levels. The rise in abuse of Suboxone also has professionals worried that the problem could interfere with patients who are using the drug correctly and for its planned purpose.
The trend is especially frustrating to Ronni Katz, Portland Public Health Division, and others in her profession. Katz says they were told by pharmaceutical companies that Suboxone didn’t have addictive properties. Part of the rise in abuse of Suboxone is its accessibility, as compared to drugs like Methadone that some prescription painkiller addicts use for treatments. Suboxone can be filled with a doctor’s order at a pharmacy for a month supply, rather than in a one-day Methadone dose at a specialized drug rehab clinic. Additionally, many doctors may be prescribing Suboxone without knowing that the drug is becoming widely abused.
Katz works with a substance abuse program and helps guide a program to prevent overdoses from opiate drugs. She said in an interview with the Portland Daily Sun that Suboxone has radically improved some patients’ lives as they work toward opiate addiction recovery, but is now showing up repeatedly as an abused street drug.
Katz is urging for more educational campaigns geared at doctors so that they will understand the potential for Suboxone abuse, and is also involved in community groups to help women and mothers recover from opiate addiction. Helping people reach a state of physical health, she says, is the first priority before steps for recovery are addressed.