Even though I have worked in the treatment field for over 12 years I have had personal experience with family members that struggled with addiction that I was unable to help. Just recently I had a close family member that lost her life to addiction. She was only 28 years old.
A heroin addict since her early 20’s, her parents only realized the severity of her substance abuse problem last year. I recommended a rehab program that did drug free therapy and lasted 4-6 months because she was a heavy IV heroin user for some time.
Her parents decided on a 30 day program that was close to home that used a traditional approach and replacement drug therapy. She completed the treatment and was put on Suboxone; a primary replacement drug treatment for heroin addicts.
For those of you who are not familiar with Suboxone it is supposed to reduce the symptoms of dependence to opiate drugs because of its active ingredient buprenorphine. Those taking the drug place a pill under their tongue daily which dissolves and is supposed to curb cravings for heroin.
Some of the side effects of this replacement drug therapy include:
• Cold Symptoms
• Flu Symptoms
• Trouble Sleeping or Insomnia
• Severe Mood Swings
Perhaps the most severe side effect is the fact that the drug can cause respiratory depression and when mixed with other drugs, especially depressants or opiate drugs, is deadly.
While on Suboxone, my family member mixed the substance with another drug and died. She is not the only young person that lost their life because of this deadly replacement drug therapy as The National Drug Intelligence Agency just released an Intelligence Bulletin on the side effects and deaths caused from the abuse of buprenorphine.
Other replacement drugs like Methadone are not much better as the drug has a laundry list of side effects including headaches, sweating, itching of the skin, fainting and light-headedness, dizziness, feeling sleepy, nausea and vomiting, weakness, swelling of the face, decrease in sex drive, hallucinations, inability to eat or sleep, severe mood swings, muscle and bone pain, seizures, shortness of breath, swelling, and bruising easily. There have also been deaths attributed to methadone abuse and addiction.
Drug free therapy vs replacement drug therapy has many advantages for patients. The side effects and potential for overdoes and abuse of medications goes away completely. Therefore, there are less people relapsing, becoming cross-addicted to the drugs or losing their lives during or after treatment. In addition to this many drug free programs focus on health and nutrition through exercise, vitamin and mineral supplements, eating well and even other natural detox methods. This type of health-based program combined with one-on-one counseling to address the underlying issues, statistically provides a better chance for a successful recovery.
Choosing the right type of therapy in rehab is a life or death decision. I just experienced it. Using the safest approach to recovery is always the best choice.
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