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The National Alliance of Advocates
for Buprenorphine Treatment

Buprenorphine (Suboxone®, Subutex®3, Zubsolv®4, Bunavail™5, Probuphine®6) is an opioid medication used to treat opioid addiction in the privacy of a physician's office.1 Buprenorphine can be dispensed for take-home use, by prescription.1 This, in addition to the pharmacological and safety profile of buprenorphine, makes it an attractive treatment for patients addicted to opioids.2

Patient Stories

"This was the first day on the road to the rest of a long healthy life. Suboxone® has helped me in ways I just can't believe. I never thought I could feel "normal" again..."

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woman sitting

When I was 28 years old, I found out that I had kidney stones and must have surgery to remove them. I had the surgery done, (lithotripsy), and the day I had it done, I ended up in the ER that night in so much pain that my husband had to carry me in. It took 2 rounds of morphine and an overnight Demerol® drip to kill the pain. This was the first day of the road to the end of my life.

After that day, I took my pain meds as prescribed but when they were gone, I called for a refill. No problem there. The next time I called the doctor wanted to see me. I went in and told him that something was wrong because I should notbe in this much pain, my mom had the same surgery and she was fine. I was NOT fine. He told me that I was fine, wrote me one more script for Lortab® 5 (that's nothin!), told me that he will not be a prescriber of pain medicine and sent me on my way. I couldn't believe it. He wasn't even listening to me. So I took the medicine and when it was gone, I found out from a friend who also took pain meds, there is a doctor in my town that will prescribe anything you want. I thought it was too good to be true, until I went.

My first appointment, I went in, they did the usual: weight, blood pressure. Then the doctor came in and I told him I have kidney stones and migraine headaches sometimes. Without doing any kind of tests, even blood work or urine, he writes me scripts for: Lortab10 #120, Morphine and MorphineES for breakthrough pain. I almost had a heart attack!! I thought I had found my savior. I knew I was set for at least the next month. So when the month was coming to an end, so were the pills. I made another appt to see the doctor and when I went in, he asked me how I was doing and said I was fine as long as I had the Lortabs. I wasn't crazy about taking the morphine; it made me sick to my stomach. So he wrote me a script to get me through this next month: Lortab10 #180. Taken properly, that’s 6 pills/day. I did this for the next 5 months. But I started taking more than prescribed. I just wasn't getting relief for my pain like in the beginning because as far as I knew, my back pain was caused by my kidneys.

Then, in November 2003, I got pregnant. I thought to myself, ‘oh good, this can be the reason I stop taking all these pills’. I cut back a little at a time, but I couldn't stop. Two months into the pregnancy we found out we were having twins. We were ecstatic! But it wasn't enough for me to stop using, even though my pregnancy was seriously high risk. I started going to an OB. but at the same time I was still going to my regular pill-prescribing doctor. He had no idea I was pregnant and I was able to hide it for the first 5 months of the pregnancy (I am very small framed!). So I was still taking around 15-20 pills a day. Then about 6 months into my pregnancy, I was in the hospital because I started having contractions, and my sister and husband confronted me about my addiction. I told them I was addicted to pain meds and I needed help.

That's when I met Dr. Scanlan. He is an addiction specialist here and it was him who started me on methadone. I took the methadone everyday, had the twins in July, continued the methadone everyday and wasn't very happy. I developed postpartum depression on top of all this and started taking an antidepressant. By Christmas time, I was up to 100mg of methadone a day. But more than that, I wasn't happy, so I was looking for an outlet. Taking other stuff with the methadone was what I tried, and Benadryl® mixed with methadone really gave me a high. It was too good of a high; I took it for granted.

One evening I was at my sister’s and already had taken my methadone that morning, started taking Benadryl around 11am. By around 4pm, all 100 Benedryl I had in that new bottle I had just bought was gone. I was at my sister’s house that evening and very high. My mom and my kids were there too. By 7 pm, my body realized that I took too much medication and started shutting down. I couldn't talk very good – like I couldn't get my words to come out right. Then it got to the point of just babbling syllables when I dropped to the floor and started to have a seizure. After the seizure, about 2 minutes, my body went limp, my heart quit and I had stopped breathing. I had died that night...and I had done it in front of my mother and my sister. All because I needed to feel high.

My brother-in-law started CPR immediately and what seemed like years to my sister was about 5 minutes to resuscitate me, the paramedics arrived and I spent 2 days in the hospital. From there, I went into a 30-day treatment program for women only. First of all, I didn't want to go. Second, all the women there were horrible. These women were true street women, and I was scared of most of them. So I kept to myself and just tried to be nice to those who got close. I ended up realizing that as hard as these women are, they are still just as soft on the inside. After my 30 days, I went home and things were ok. I was slowly being taken off the methadone, at a rate of 2mg a week. By April 2005, I was drug free...even off the methadone.

But I was horribly depressed. And my back hurt ALL the time. So in August I went to see a new urologist who looked at my kidneys and said that I have stones in both and I need surgery, again. I did the surgery and was fine, actually taking the medicine as prescribed. But then it hit. I can just take one more and that will be the last one for today, or, I have 5 pills left and I can just call the doc and get another refill. And when I ran out of excuses to that doc, I called my friend. She was happy to see me, of course, I was giving her money! I had relapsed, but I didn't know why. Maybe I’m just a junkie for life.

When my husband started going to the doctor for a pulled muscle, I would take his meds too. One evening, I got a Fentanyl patch from my dealer. For anyone who doesn't know, it's a very strong pain medication they give to cancer patients, it lasts 3 days, it releases 100µgs of Fentanyl into your bloodstream every hour. So, for 3 days I didn't have to worry about taking any pills, it all came through the patch. But for someone who is not already on any kind of pain meds or opiates, this medicine can be fatal. My husband put one on Friday evening around 5 pm. By midnight he was so spacey he couldn't talk in complete sentences. By 4 am I was performing CPR on him and on the phone with 911. He had stopped breathing and his heart stopped. He spent 2 days in the hospital recuperating.

I couldn't believe that I could use so much that I would kill myself, but now my using had almost killed my husband, I decided it was time for me to get help. And no one else was involved; not my husband because he didn't know I was using; not my mom or sister either. Nope, this time I was getting the help I deserved on my own. And I did. The doctor I went to for my methadone was the one who suggested I start using Suboxone® instead.

I agreed and I started the Suboxone on November 22, 2005, my 33rd b-day. This was the first day on the road to the rest of a long healthy life. Suboxone has helped me in ways I just can't believe. I never thought I could feel "normal" again. I have energy, which is great because the twins are now 18 months old and boy can they move!!!! It's great to just be able to keep up with the regular day to day things I have to do. I can't believe the amount of money I spent on dope...I could have funded a small country!! But everything is getting back on track in my life now that I am off the dope, my finances, my relationships, my emotions, my health. And it's all due to the Suboxone. I am even over my depression and off the antidepressant. I feel like I have been given a second chance at life and I want to cherish it. I am thankful everyday to my higher power that I am here.

Back to List of Patient Stories

The Purpose of Buprenorphine Treatment:

To suppress the debilitating symptoms of cravings and withdrawal, enabling the patient to engage in therapy, counseling and support, so they can implement positive long-term changes in their lives which develops into the new healthy patterns of behavior necessary to achieve sustained addiction remission. - explain -

The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment is a non-profit organization charged with the mission to:

  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA Talk Paper, T0238, October 8, 2002, Subutex and Suboxone approved to treat opiate dependence.
  2. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Clinical Guidelines for the Use of Buprenorphine in the Treatment of Opioid Addiction. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series 40. DHHS Publication No. (SMA) 04-3939. Rockville, Md: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2004.
  3. Subutex Discontinued in the US market in late 2011.
  4. Zubsolv (bup/nx sublingual tablet) FDA approved 7/3/2013 see buprenorphine pipeline graphic -in pharmacies now.
  5. Bunavail (bup/nx bucal film) FDA approved 6/6/2014 see buprenorphine pipeline graphic -in pharmacies now.
  6. Probuphine FDA approved 5/26/2016 - FDA Probuphine press release