• Jessica Colarossi

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    Jessica Colarossi

    Jessica Colarossi is a science writer for The Brink. She graduated with a BS in journalism from Emerson College in 2016, with focuses on environmental studies and publishing. While a student, she interned at ThinkProgress in Washington, D.C., where she wrote over 30 stories, most of them relating to climate change, coral reefs, and women’s health. Profile

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There are 11 comments on Why Making Buprenorphine Opioid-Based Medication Available without a Prescription Could Save Lives

  1. The current opioid epidemic is tragic, and ameliorating the suffering involved without is daunting. Yet, Medicated Assisted Therapy is not the only way to recover from the hopeless state of mind and body associated with opioid addiction; and as someone who has first hand experience, I can say that suboxone is a much harder and longer detox than heroin. While the medical establishment heavily advocates for the use of suboxone, many in the field of recovery speak to its dangers, notably the continuation of a dependence to opioids with no real protocol for detox. Abstinent based methods, as the article shows, receive incredible stigma from treatment field, and the practitioners prescribing suboxone have huge financial incentives to do so. Also there many opioid users who only use subxone, and the idea that this drug would be not be mis-managed in a over the counter form is laughable. Arguing for safe injection sites, where users are contained and can use their drugs safely is a far better use of policy making time.

    1. As someone who used to be addicted to heroin and morphine, I have this to say concerning your response:

      Bupe withdrawl sucks. Sure. But heroin is MUCH worse. I’ve detoxed from both. Neither are pleasant, but make no mistake, I’d take a bupe detox any day over an H detox.

      As for the “continuation of dependence with no real protocol for detox”, I say people are ALREADY addicted. It’s just a question of, do you want that addiction to dominate and ruin your life, or do you want it to be manageable so that you can live a normal life and be a productive citizen? For those who cannot successfully detox or do not have the will, it’s the clearly superior option. And having no clear protocol for detox is no reason to dismiss it. There’s no real clear protocol for detoxing off heroin either. And at the end of the day if you want to detox there are plenty of guys out there that step you down in your dosage every week. Can’t exactly do that with heroin. I’ve tried.

      Safe injection sites only allow the same super high highs and super low lows. Which will lead to the exact same lifestyle and choices. Suboxone levels out the high highs and the lows lows. It’s not a magic bullet but it’s definitely the best we’ve got.

    2. If they can have a site for injection then why not offer buprenorphine there aswell. This would be another alternative atleast. I know how heroin addicts think. They want that immediate warm rush of heroin going to the brain and nothing else will do. Especially if nothing else is available. It would seem to me that having alternative medicine available is the key to stopping injections. Yeah, it might take time but we need alternatives more now than ever before in the history of America.

  2. I was at John Hopkins doing an in patient study on buprenorphine. A measured dose administered under the tongue and holding it there for 10 minutes every morning. This went on for 3 months. At 2 and 1/2 months they started reducing the dose. At the end of the 3rd month I was free to leave and was very surprised that I was feeling no withdraw at that time. However, just like any disease, the disease of opiate addiction kicked right back in. The cravings started and with money in my pocket given to me upon release I went straight for my opiate of choice..,(heroin).
    If I could have gone immediately back to get buprenorphine I would have done so. BTW since it was only a study we received no council at all. None, and I think that may have atleast slowed down the thought process of acquiring a replacement opioid. It is a disease ofcourse, but it is of the mind,body, and soul. The bell once rung does not simply unring. I’ve lost many friends and much of my life has been ruined because of the insidious nature of this disease. Had I been able to
    walk inside of a store and get a dose of buprenorphine I would have done just that.. The withdrawal from buprenorphine is different than that of most narcotics and opioids. Infact they are much easier to deal with and in time I may have stopped altogether. However, no treatment facility
    of that type was around and so I went back to using until I could get on a methadone clinic. That was the game changer and atleast I was able to get my life in order. The stigma involved was more than just bad. Once it was known I was on methadone my family treated me like a pariah.
    An outcast, a throw away. Imagine if diabetics were treated so badly. Now I still live my life on methadone but I must do it in secret or I wouldn’t be allowed to live my life like a normal human being. I’m reducing my dosage slowly and will eventually be off of methadone all together. I’m so afraid of what will happen when that day comes.
    I’m not sure I can continue living like everyone else because of the memory of the feeling still bouncing around in my head. I don’t see my life lasting much past that point, but I just don’t know.
    It’s a sinking feeling I live with everyday. I sincerely pray that the young people don’t have to go through the lack of caring like I have. Yet every Friday I go and pick a a weeks worth at a time. My urine has been completely free of any illicit drugs for 3 years now because of the methadone. I know I can’t continue down the path I’m on because of the depression of a lifetime of being stigmatized and in the on going battle that is addiction. Getting free of it just isn’t enough. I just want my family to love me like I remember they once did.
    To those people who are fighting I can only say get on a clinic because the battle is never going to be over even once you get clean. It’s a war not a battle and we the addicted are not meant to come out of it alive and well. Maybe alive will just have to do if you can get free early on.

  3. From article: “People with opioid addiction will not feel a euphoria from taking buprenorphine, thereby limiting its potential addictive effects. While people can develop a physical dependence, addiction to buprenorphine is rare.” Absolute nonsense. I am on the front lines and that statement is pure bollocks. Suboxone is the most smuggled drug into prison today where it sells for up to a hundred dollars a strip and the Roy thinks it should be sold over the counter? I work with addicts in treatment and Suboxone is highly addictive, I had one client who was taking such large doses it took him 62 days to finally taper off the withdrawals were so intense. Is Suboxone a tool in the tool kit to address addiction? Yes. But what is proposed in this article is not only wrong, but madness.

    1. Euphoria only occurs in those who are opiate nieve or have already detoxed from their DOC. If there’s a direct continuation from the opioid DOC to bupa, there’s no euphoria. On a side note, I don’t know many people who actually enough the feeling they get from recreational use of bupe. (Dizziness, nausea, headache. In no way comparable to the high you’d get from a full agonist)

      Methadone is an entirely different story though.

    2. They are taking it in prison because they are addicts and need bupe to function. I would love to see bupe legalized and given to anyone in prison that wants it. U think they are getting high on bupe!? That is so ignorant u have no clue!

  4. I went for my monthly doctor appointment where I receive a recurring prescription for subutex. Its helped me greatly with everyday functioning after breaking my neck and the surgeries that followed. I have chronic pain and I’m a otherwise healthy 42 year old man. When it was time to write my script he said “we have a problem, this medication can no longer be prescribed to anyone except pregnant women period”. No plan to taper from it, no options, no nothing except an apology. Now this article is talking about having it available without even having a prescription. What am I missing? Can you look into this matter and see what the deal is because I’m very confused and in a great deal of pain. I was getting Subutex 8mg sublingual tablets, not as an addiction aid, but for chronic pain relief for the last 2 years and now without notice I’m turned away. I’m no addict (nothing against those fighting the good fight), but this seems like a cruel joke to me. Please she’d some light on this subject.

    1. This has been going on for 10 years now.. I remember a doctor telling me the same exact thing back in 2009, but I found another doctor who continued to prescribe it to me for about 3 years around 2012/2013 and he said the same thing the last doctor said only pregnant women are allowed to have this.. I have yet to find a doctor since then to prescribe it.. I cant believe you were on it till just recently? And yes it seems like a cruel joke.. I thought the same thing as I was always prescribed it for pain.. Now I’m almost 40 have had 5 surgeries and btk amputation and can’t get anything for pain.. It feels like they are messing with us.. Trying to push us over the edge!

  5. Hello I live in Gouldsboro Pa and I can’t find a place that has subutex I’ve tried suboxon doesn’t work for me! Why is it so hard to get subutex when I’m trying to get off of opiates I’ve had 10 foot surgeries so the last 15 years I’ve been taking percs buying them off the streets people charge to much or it’s not even a percet! I’ve gone thru withdrawal and it really sucks!also they charge you so much money to get off opiates which is stupid people are trying to get better and they can’t! Does anyone no off a place near Sranton Pa or stroudsburg Pa thanks Nadine

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