Many Addiction Professionals Object to Extended Use of Suboxone

Suboxone has become one more tool in the arsenal of fighting addiction to opiate drugs such as OxyContin and Vicodin. A recent story in the Sun Sentinal reported that South Florida residents take an astonishing 70 percent of all oxycodone pills used in the United States.

The article cites a warning from Dr. Steven Scanlan, a psychiatrist certified in addiction medicine, who runs an outpatient clinic in Boca Raton, Florida. Scanlan believes suboxone is being improperly prescribed for too long a period by doctors in the area. In than they should. Scanlan’s business partner, David Remland, equates it to “selling suboxone to their patients.” They say some doctors are selling it for as much as $10 for a single suboxone pill.

Both Scanlan and Remland are recovering addicts. They believe suboxone should only be used as a detox medication; the ultimate goal is true freedom from addiction.

Remland’s philosophy is that if you don’t want to get off pain kills, don’t come to his clinic.

Many people in the recovery community and clinical professionals are becoming alarmed at the number of doctors who are prescribing suboxone as a maintenance medication, not giving the addict the opportunity to be sober and drug-free. They voice concerns that Big Pharma has too big a stake in the game – and ultimately benefits by long-term maintenance with suboxone vs. using the drug in the short-term to get over the initial withdrawal symptoms that come with detox from opiates.

Earl Hightower, who has done addiction interventions for over 20 years, believes the use of suboxone and other replacement therapies for extended periods of time robs people of the opportunity to live a full life.

One addiction specialist says, “You are just subsituting one drug for another, one that simply moves profits from illegal drug traffickers to pharmaceutical companies. What a great bargain for the pharmaceutical industry – an addicted customer is a customer for life.”

The more reputable treatment programs, including residential drug rehabs, opt to use suboxone only as a detox medication and work to wean the client from this substitute drug during treatment.