Anyone who suffers from chronic pain knows how difficult it is to lead a normal life. Chronic pain is not only physically debilitating, but can also become psychologically and emotionally debilitating as well. Your ability to perform your job and day-to-day tasks is challenged and your personal relationships often suffer because of the mental and emotional toll your chronic pain takes on you.
One of the most widely used methods of chronic pain management is through the use opioid medications. Opioids such as Vicodin, morphine, codeine and other related painkillers are very effective at controlling and eliminating pain and, if taken properly, are very safe. There are risks to using opioid painkillers for long-term management of pain, however. Even if taken properly, long-term use of opioid painkillers can lead to dependency, abuse and addiction. These risk factors are even greater for patients with a history of addiction.
Chronic pain sufferers who have a history of substance abuse have few choices when it comes to medication-based pain management. Recently, however, the FDA-approved drug buprenorphine has been used with some success. Buprenorphine comes in two forms: Subutex, which is composed of only buprenorphine, and Suboxone, which is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Subutex and Suboxone are methadone-like medications that allow patients to detoxify from opiates without becoming ill with withdrawal symptoms. They are also used in the long-term maintenance of opioid dependency. Unlike methadone, however, Subutex and Suboxone are less addictive and easier to come off of.
Because Subutex and Suboxone are partial opiates that work to block pain receptors, they can be an attractive option for long-term chronic pain management. Compared to opioid painkillers, long-term use Subutex and Suboxone has a lower risk of physical dependency and milder withdrawal symptoms when usage ends. Even with these benefits, there are some risks to using Subutex and Suboxone, and both should only be taken under the supervision of a trained medical professional. Overdosing or taking Suboxone with alcohol, sedatives or CNS depressants can lead to severe complications that include disability and death.
Using Subutex and Suboxone has its advantages, but using them alone is not an effective treatment for chronic pain and/or opioid addiction. Managing chronic pain should include more than just medication; it should also include non-medication based treatments to address the psychological and emotional components of chronic pain. On the same note, the only way to effectively treat opiate addiction is to use Subutex and Suboxone as part of a comprehensive program that includes addiction education, counseling and behavioral therapy.
If you’re suffering from chronic pain and have a history of substance abuse, find an addiction treatment program that offers a chronic pain management program. These types of programs will give you the tools you need to manage your chronic pain and overcome your addiction to prescription painkillers.
Don’t let chronic pain define who you are any longer. Get the help you need and deserve through a pain management program that specializes in patients with substance abuse problems.