You start out with a prescription for pain medication and then you wonder why you can’t stop taking it. Are you still in pain, or have you become addicted? Maybe you need methadone or Suboxone treatment for addiction. How can you know for sure when your need for pain management ends and substance abuse takes over?
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) educates providers of Suboxone treatment about clinical indicators to help them tell the difference between people who take pain pills simply for pain versus those who are addicted to their pain pills. See how many of these indicators describe you:
- Do you compulsively use your pain medication? Do you find that you want or need to take the medication even without considering your level of pain?
- Do you crave the drug when you’re not in pain?
- Have you tried to seek out additional providers for your pain medication other than your regular prescriber?
- Have you actually done something illegal in order to obtain opiate pain pills? That would include pinching your grandma’s supply from her medicine cabinet.
- Do you take more of your medication than your doctor prescribed?
- Have you taken other pain medications along with the one that your doctor prescribed?
- When you visit your doctor, do you tell him or her exactly what medication you want them to write?
- Have you been unwilling to try alternative therapies in place of your pain medication? Maybe physical therapy or even over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications would help you.
- Do you find that you run our of your medication early on a regular basis?
If you answer yes to more than one of these indicators, you probably need to learn more about Suboxone treatment for pain. Some people more than others find themselves more susceptible to addiction, and this susceptibility is enhanced by their lack of knowledge about pain management as well as medication characteristics.
For example, you may not be aware that excessive use of pain pills can cause migraine headaches. Or you may be convinced that a surgical site is not healing well, without realizing that infection could be brewing beneath your skin. That’s why you should talk to your doctor whenever your pain continues beyond the timeframe that the doctor originally told you to expect.
Doctors Should Not Begin With Opioids for Pain
Keep in mind that your doctor may not be fully educated about the management of pain. A prescriber should not prescribe an opioid pain pill without first trying an NSAID or other non-narcotic pain reliever. Few doctors offer Suboxone treatment solely for pain relief; while it does provide a high level of pain relief, it does not provide relief as quickly as other medications do.
Using Suboxone Treatment When Pain Is Present
If you fear that your long-term, chronic pain has caused you to become addicted, it’s wise to visit an opiate treatment program for assessment of your condition. You will have to be willing to make an effort on your part to experience a little bit of discomfort that will come with switching from discontinuing pain medication and beginning Suboxone treatment. If you think you’re addicted, you cannot continue your pain medication as you begin Suboxone therapy because the Suboxone will block the effects of the pain medication. In addition, you will put yourself in danger of overdose from taking both narcotic pain pills along with either Suboxone or methadone. The two medications taken together could fatally overwhelm your system.
Instead, the doctor at the Suboxone treatment program may recommend that you discontinue your narcotic pain pills while taking an NSAID along with another short-acting over-the-counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen. You can take ibuprofen and acetaminophen together safely, for example, because they are different types of medication. After a few days to eliminate opiate drugs from your system, you can begin Suboxone treatment for your addiction. For some people whose addiction began from taking prescription pain pills for chronic pain, the doctor may prescribe a split dose of Suboxone. That means instead of taking an 8 mg dose once per day, you might take a half dose once in the morning and again in the evening.
Another reason for utilizing Suboxone treatment for patients with chronic pain is the ceiling effect characteristic of Suboxone. Even when someone takes more than the recommended dose, they will not experience a greater amount of pain relief. That means the temptation to misuse it is reduced.
Ultimately, it is between you and your doctor to determine whether you have crossed the line from chronic pain management and into the realm of addiction. The doctor at the Suboxone treatment clinic will make the decision how to manage your addiction treatment and will explain his or her decision to you. It’s therapy that the two of you will embark on together. You will have a counselor that helps you understand the mechanisms of addiction and guides you through therapy. You will not make this journey alone.