There is now an effective medication for both opiate addiction treatment and/or maintenance pain management that is FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved. The medication is buprenorphine, which is an opiate agonist/antagonist and a very effective pain medication for appropriate patients. It has been used in pain management for many years—mostly in its injectable form. Buprenorphine is now available in the United States as sublingual (dissolved under the tongue) medication and is many times more potent than injected morphine. Buprenorphine is different from other opiates in that the patient usually feels more “clear headed” when taking it.
Being the first oral medication that has been approved in the U.S., physicians can now prescribe buprenorphine in their offices for people who are dependent or addicted to opiates such as opiate pain medication, heroin, or methadone. Buprenorphine is an effective medication for opiate addiction which does not require daily or weekly visits to a clinic. Buprenorphine blocks the effects of other opiates; it eliminates cravings and prevents withdrawal symptoms such as pain and nausea. Patients can be maintained on buprenorphine or go through detoxification.
Subutex and Suboxone are the brand names under which buprenorphine is being marketed for the treatment of opiate dependence. Both medications contain the active ingredient, buprenorphine hydrochloride, which works to reduce the symptoms of opiate dependence. Subutex contains only buprenorphine hydrochloride which was developed as the initial product. The second medication, Suboxone contains an additional ingredient called Naloxone to guard against misuse or abuse. Subutex is usually given during the first few days of treatment, while Suboxone is used during the maintenance phase of treatment. Both medications come in 2 mg and 8 mg strengths as sublingual (placed under the tongue to dissolve) tablets.
However, this medication is also being used very effectively by some pain management physicians for people living with chronic pain. It is important to remember that medication is only one modality for effective chronic pain management. It is also crucial to develop non-medication based treatment interventions as well as learning to treat the psychological/emotional components of chronic pain. A multidisciplinary team approach always gives the best treatment outcomes. For someone with chronic pain who has developed an addictive disorder this medication may be the best intervention possible along with concurrent addiction treatment modalities. In addition, it is important to help people differentiate between the physiological and psychological/emotional components of their pain. Once that is done then cognitive behavioral approaches can help people manage the psychological components more effectively.
To learn more about chronic pain management please check out our website at www.addiction-free.com and go to our Publications page and check out my book Managing Pain and Coexisting Disorders: Using the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System. If you want to learn more about non-medication intervnetions for chronic pain management you can find my article Managing Pain Without Pills that you can download for free on our Ariticles page.
To check out our July Chronic Pain Solutions Newsletter please click here.