Suboxone, What’s Wrong, and What’s Not (first two pages of Chapter 17)

Suboxone is not meant to be a permanent replacement. In order to get on it, you have to go to a doctor specializing in Suboxone treatment. He or she assesses you, makes sure your last dose of whatever drug was at least twelve to twenty-four hours ago, gives you a drug test, a blood test to verify that your liver can handle the medication, and gives you a certain amount of time to seek, and find, adequate counseling for your drug problem. Every doctor differs slightly, but they all do basically the same things.

Mine costs $300 for the first visit, and $100 for every visit after that, just for the doctor visit. The prescription itself is different, but most insurance plans will cover it, though you have to jump through a million hoops in order for them to approve it. Anyway, the second visit is scheduled for two weeks after your first. That’s $400 in the first month, plus prescription and drug test costs if you don’t have insurance (drug tests are $60 in-office, considerably more if you go somewhere else like LabCorp).

After the first two visits, you go back either once even four weeks if you are prescribed one Suboxone a day or less, or every two weeks if you take more than one a day. (As I said, different doctors do it differently. Usually the costs are different, but close to the same, and the amount of time between visits can be different).

I started out on 8mg a day, but soon found myself running out before my four weeks was up, so I upped my prescription to 16mg a day. Though, I only took about 12mg a day. I stayed like that for a few months, and then as soon as possible started weaning myself down as much as I could.

I am now being prescribed one 1mg a day, but only taking .5mg a day. During days when I get very little sleep, or feel really horrible, I sometimes take a little more. However, on some days I take less.

So, I’ve already gone down a considerable amount. I’ve already accomplished an amazing feat; getting off heroin, getting off methadone, getting off heroin again, and significantly lowering my Suboxone dose. None of those are easy things. So to say that I’m proud of myself is an understatement. And, for a while, everyone close to me was proud as well.

However, things have started to change. I now get bombarded daily with “it’s that medicine that’s causing [whatever mundane thing is bothering me],” (I have a headache. It’s the Suboxone. My foot hurts. It’s the Suboxone. My eye is twitching. It’s the Suboxone. I ate too much ice cream and now my belly feels like crap. It’s the Suboxone. I fell down and scraped my knee. It’s the Suboxone.)

Everything that is wrong with me is Suboxone’s fault. And I’m sorry, I just don’t see it that way.

I think Suboxone saved my life. Scratch that, I know Suboxone saved my life. It saved my son from a world he does not deserve, and I am eternally grateful for it. No, it’s not the best option, the best option would be to not rely on any drug or medication. However, that is not a plausible option for me at the moment.

I am not just sitting on my ass doing absolutely nothing and taking drugs all day.

I am a single mother of a wonderful toddler, in school full-time, and taking care of a household consisting of myself and three males, ages two, twenty-four, and fifty-five. They are all crazy in their own ways, and it pains me to say that since I have moved into this home, my personal life has been going downhill. I love all of them with everything in me, but they don’t seem to realize how much they affect me.

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6 thoughts on “Suboxone, What’s Wrong, and What’s Not (first two pages of Chapter 17)

  1. Life’s been busy so I’m not reading blogs as much but I’m glad I clicked on this. My brother’s story is similar to yours and I often hear relatives criticizing him & saying what you describe here — it’s the medicine!! This was such a good reminder of how much he’s accomplished and how critical continued support for those working SO hard is. You’re doing so well and absolutely should be proud of yourself. I’m glad you can see that even when others can’t. I’m cheering you on, too, and look for to catching up on your blog/book soon. — Viv

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  2. You’re a strong woman, Tempest, and fortunately for many readers that your work reaches, you’re also articulate in writing about such complex problems that most people going through them could never convey so clearly.

    The seemingly constant suffering in your life makes some of your work hard to read for anyone prone to depression, but your strength facing these very difficult problems and your persistence in working on them, combined with your clarity in describing the experience give hope to enough of your readers to make your work valuable even beyond its literary worth — valuable in the practical support it offers to others struggling with the same problems.

    When you also lace your writing with the joy you take in your son, or the best times with the adults in your life, you help make reading such heavy material easier, offering to heavy hearts bearing similar burdens to those you describe so vividly a glimpse of the happiness that can emerge even during bleak times.

    Thank you, Tempest, for persevering — and for continuing to share your experience.

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  3. I haven’t visited your blog for some time, Tempest. It sounds like you’re doing well, still struggling, but we all are with our own, diverse issues. I’m sure you know what’s best. All medicine, has side effects, but we all need to take them from time to time. I think you’ve already fought and won your hardest battle, don’t forget that, you’re a survivor. You can cope. Hope to see you again soon :)

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  4. Thank you for your sharing your honest experience with Suboxone. I think it is a misunderstood drug, and while I, myself, have a love/hate relationship with it, I think it is so complicated that only those who have personally been on the drug can fully understand it. I’ve been on it for five years, and I know it has saved my life also, I just wish it were easier to get off of. Many people in my own life don’t understand why I don’t just “stop taking it”, which can be frustrating. You are so right to feel pride in your accomplishments! I cannot even tell you how many of my friends from high school or that I grew up with are now dead due to overdoses. There is a reason heroin/opiate use is an epidemic — because people cannot just “stop”. No one has to walk in your shoes but you, so keep on doing what is keeping you clean, sober & healthy, whether other people understand/agree or not :-)

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  5. I too have been away for a while and now returning to catch up. You have accomplished so much! Don’t pay attention to people who do not understand what you are going through and how much the medication is not only helping, but helping to save your life. My son has been on Methadone for a year now and credits that with saving his life. He doesn’t want to stop taking it and I don’t know why he should at this point–or ever–if it keeps him sane and heroin-free and able to live a “normal,” productive life. We’ve discovered Vitadone that helps with the side effects of the methadone (the sweating, sugar cravings, energy loss, etc,) He looks and acts and lives healthy, and for someone who has struggled with heroin for over 15 years now, it feels like a miracle and a blessing. So if the Suboxane is helping you as much as it is, and the side-effects are manageable, I don’t know why you would want to wean yourself for it (the expense, perhaps?)

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