Combining Medication-Assisted Treatment and 12- Step recovery: One Patient’s Success Story

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A few weeks ago, I posted a few articles about 12-step recovery. Several readers became very upset, even saying that if I was pro-12-step, I couldn’t really be an advocate for medicated-assisted treatment of opioid addiction. That’s their opinion, and I honor their views, though I heartily disagree with them.

Now I’d like to present an interview I did with a very successful Suboxone patient who did find help from 12-step meetings.

JB: Please tell me about your experience with pain pill addiction and your experiences with buprenorphine (Suboxone).

XYZ: For me, my opiate addiction got so bad, I was taking two hundred and forty to three hundred and twenty milligrams of OxyContin per day, just to stay normal. It had gotten really, really bad. And it started out with a reason. I had kidney stones, and I was in all this pain, but then it got to the point where it solved some other problems in my life and it got out of hand. I tried a lot of different things. I went to detox, and they helped me, but it was…it was almost like I never came out of withdrawal.

JB: How long were you off pain pills?

XYZ: Even after being clean for thirty or sixty days, I would still feel bad. Bowels, stomach…really all the time.

JB: Did it feel like acute withdrawal or just low grade withdrawal?

XYZ: No…I’d try to fix it myself, sometimes, and I would just put myself back where I was. It got to the point where I was making myself sicker and sicker and sicker. And then I got off of it, and stayed off of it for a hundred and twenty days, I guess…but still just sick. Just miserable, and not feeling right. I was miserable. I wouldn’t eat, I was losing weight…

It [buprenorphine] gave me something that replaced whatever was going on in my head physically, with the receptors. It took that [prolonged withdrawal] away, to the point that I felt well. All that energy I would spend getting pills…and I was going to the doctors almost daily. Because taking that much medicine, nobody would write me for that much, so I had to doctor shop.

My only life was going to the doctors, figuring out what pharmacy I could use. I had a whole system of how many days it could be between prescriptions, what pharmacy to go to. It was sick. I was just trying to not get sick.

JB: And you were working during that time?

XYZ: Yeah! I was working, if you want to call it that. I wasn’t a very good employee, but I held a job. I was a regional vice president for “X” company. I traveled a lot, so I had new states where I could see new doctors. That was bad. When I came off the road, I owed $50,000 in credit card bills.

JB: And your wife didn’t know about it?

XYZ: No. It all came tumbling down. And I had gotten into trouble, because they were company credit cards, and they wanted the money back! So, all of the sudden my wife found out that not only do I have a pain pill problem, but we’re $50,000 short, and I wasn’t very ethical in the way I got the money, because it really wasn’t my credit, it was my company’s credit card.

JB: So addiction made you do things you wouldn’t do otherwise?

XYZ: Absolutely. I lied to people, I took money from people, I ran up credit cards tens of thousands of dollars, and really put my family in serious jeopardy at that time. But buprenorphine took away that whole obsessive-compulsive need for pills, made me feel better, and took away all the withdrawal symptoms at the same time. I didn’t worry about it.
To be honest, I was such a hypochondriac before. I haven’t been sick in years now. I haven’t had a backache or headache that ibuprofen didn’t cure [since starting recovery]. I was fortunate it was all in my head. I would milk any little thing. I had two knee operations that probably could have been healed through physical therapy, but I was all for surgery, because I knew I’d get pain pills.

JB: That’s the power of addiction!

XYZ: Yes. Finally I did some research about buprenorphine, online. Actually, I had some good family members, who did some research and brought it to me, because they were concerned for me, and they brought it to me and said, “Hey, there’s a medicine that can help. Call this number,” and I found places out there that would do it [meaning Suboxone], but my concern was the speed that a lot of them were doing it. A lot of them said, OK come in, and we can evaluate you, and after a week you’ll be down to this, and after a month you’ll be down to this.

This was in 2005. And when I asked them what their success rate is, it wasn’t very high. It was something like twenty percent of the people who were doing it [succeeded]. So when I’d finally gotten a hold of “X,” [receptionist for Dr. H], she saved my life over the phone. Because she said, you can come tomorrow, and she said that whatever it takes, they’ll work with you. And I felt good about going to a place where it wasn’t already determined how long it would take. Because I already knew how I was feeling after I would come off of opiates. I didn’t want to do that again.

I saw Dr. H. and felt better within twenty-four hours, although it took a little while to get the dosage right. I think we started off at a lower dose, then we went up on the dose and it kept me so level. I had no symptoms. It cured my worst withdrawal symptoms, my stomach and my bowels.

There’s always a kind of stigma in the rooms [12-step recovery meetings] because I’d been in NA for a little bit of time then [he’s speaking of stigma against medication-assisted treatment]. You realize who [among addicts in NA] is die-hard, one way to do recovery, and who is willing to be educated about some things and understand that there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
And I was fortunate that I had a sponsor at that time, and still do, who was willing to learn about what exactly it was, and not make me feel guilty about it. It wasn’t necessarily the way he would do it, but he was a cocaine addict, so he didn’t understand that whole part of it.

He said, “Your family’s involved, you’ve got a doctor that’s involved, your doctor knows your history. If all these people, who are intelligent, think this is an OK thing, then who am I to say it’s not going to work?” He was open-minded. And there are not a lot of people I would trust right off the bat [in recovery], that I would tell them. [that he’s taking Suboxone]. I’ve shared it with some people who’ve had a similar problem, and told them, here’s something that might help you. I always preface it with, [don’t do] one thing or another, you’ve got to do them together. You have to have a recovery program and take this medicine, because together it will work. Look at me. I’m a pretty good success story.

One of my best friends in Florida called me, and I got him to go see a doctor down there, and he’s doing well now. He’s been on it almost eleven months now and no relapses.

To me, it takes away the whole mental part of it, because you don’t feel bad. For me, it was the feeling bad that drove me back to taking something [opioids] again. Obviously, when you’re physically feeling bad, you’re mentally feeling bad, too. It makes you depressed, and all of that, so you avoid doing fun things, because you don’t feel good.

Once I trained myself with NA, how to get that portion of my life together, to use those tools, not having any kind of physical problems made it that much easier to not obsess.

JB: So, how has your life improved, as a result of being on buprenorphine?

XYZ: Well, the most important thing for me is that I’ve regained the trust of my family. I was the best liar and manipulator there was. I’d like to think of myself as a pretty ethical and honest person, in every aspect of my life, other than when it came to taking pills.

JB: So, you regained the trust of your family, felt physically better…

XYZ: I gained my life back! Fortunately, I had enough of a brain left to know it had to stop. Once I started on buprenorphine, it gave me back sixteen hours a day that I was wasting. That’s when I decided I really don’t want to jeopardize my recovery, by going out and looking for a job again [he means a job in corporate America, like he had in the past], because I’ve got this thing, this stigma…they’re going to check a reference and I’m screwed. I’m not going to get a job doing what I was doing for the same amount of money.

My brother had enough faith in me that it was worth the risk of starting this business [that he has now] together. My wife and I started on EBay, making and selling [his product], and slowly grew it to the point that, three years later, I’m going to do over two million dollars in sales this year, I’ve got [large company] as a client, I’ve got [large company] as a client, I’m doing stuff locally, in the community now, and can actually give things back to the community.

JB: And you employ people in recovery?

XYZ: Oh, yeah. I employ other recovering addicts I know I can trust. I’ve helped some people out who have been very, very successful and have stayed clean, and I’ve helped some people out who came and went, but at the same time, I gave them a chance. You can only do so much for somebody. They have to kind of want to do it themselves too, right?

JB: Have you ever had any bad experiences in the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous, as far as being on Suboxone, or do you just not talk to anybody about it?

XYZ: To be honest, I don’t broadcast it, obviously, and the only other people I would talk to about it would be somebody else who was an opioid addict, who was struggling, who was in utter misery. The whole withdrawal process…not only does it take a little while, but all that depression, the body [feels bad]. So I’ve shared with those I’ve known fairly well. I share my experience with them. I won’t necessarily tell people I don’t know well that I’m taking buprenorphine, but I will let them know about the medication. Even though the information is on the internet, a lot of it is contradictory.

It’s been great [speaking of Suboxone] for someone like me, who’s been able to put a life back together in recovery. I’d tell anybody, who’s even considering taking Suboxone, if they’re a true opioid pill addict, (I don’t know about heroin, I haven’t been there), once you get to the right level [meaning dose], it took away all of that withdrawal. And if you combine it with going to meetings, you’ll fix your head at the same time. Really. I didn’t have a job, unemployable, my family was…for a white collar guy, I was about as low as I could go, without being on the street.
Fortunately I came from a family that probably wouldn’t let that happen, at that point, but who knows, down the road… I had gotten to my low. And that’s about it, that’s about as much as I could have taken.

It [Suboxone] truly and honestly gave me my entire life back, because it took that away.

JB: What do you say to treatment centers that say, if you’re still taking methadone or Suboxone, you’re not in “real” recovery? What would you say to those people?

XYZ: To me, I look at taking Suboxone like I look at taking high blood pressure medicine, OK? It’s not mind altering, it’s not giving me a buzz, it’s not making…it’s simply fixing something I broke in my body, by abusing the hell out of it, by taking all those pain pills.

I know it’s hard for an average person, who thinks about addicts, “You did it to yourself, too bad, you shouldn’t have done that in the first place,” to be open minded. But you would think the treatment centers, by now, have seen enough damage that people have done to themselves to say, “Here’s something that we have proof that works…..”

I function normally. I get up early in the morning. I have a relationship with my wife now, after all of this, and she trusts me again. Financially, I’ve fixed all my problems, and have gotten better. I have a relationship with my kids. My wife and I were talking about it the other day. If I had to do it all over again, would I do it the way I did it? And the answer is, absolutely yes. As much as it sucked and as bad as it was, I would have still been a nine to five drone out there in corporate America, and never had the chance to do what I do. I go to work…this is dressy for me [indicating that he’s dressed in shorts and a tee shirt]

JB: So life is better now than it was before the addiction?

XYZ: It really is. Tenfold! I’m home for my kids. I wouldn’t have had the courage to have left a hundred thousand dollar a year job to start up my own business. I had to do something. Fortunately, I was feeling good enough because of it [Suboxone], to work really hard at it, like I would have if I started it as a kid. At forty years old, to go out and do something like that…

JB: Like a second career.

XYZ: It’s almost like two lives for me. And if you’re happy, nothing else matters. I would have been a miserable, full time manager, out there working for other people and reaping the benefits for them and getting my little paycheck every week and traveling, and not seeing my wife and kids, and not living as well as I do now.

I joke, and say that I work part time now, because when I don’t want to work, I don’t have to work. And when I want to work, I do work. And there are weeks that I do a lot. But then, on Saturday, we’re going to the beach. I rented a beach house Monday through Saturday, with just me and my wife and our two kids. I can spend all my time with them. I could never have taken a vacation with them like that before.

JB: Do you have anything you’d like to tell the people who make drug addiction treatment policy decisions in this nation? Anything you want them to know?

XYZ: I think it’s a really good thing they increased the amount of patients you [meaning doctors prescribing Suboxone] can take on. I’d tell the people who make the laws to find out from the doctors…how did you come up with the one hundred patient limit? What should that number be? And get it to that number, so it could help more people. And if there’s a way to get it cheaper, because the average person can’t afford it.

The main thing I’d tell them is I know it works. I’m pretty proud of what I’ve achieved. And I wouldn’t have been able to do that, had I not had the help of Suboxone. It took me a little while to get over thinking it was a crutch. But at this point, knowing that I’ve got everybody in my corner, they’re understanding what’s going on…it’s a non-issue. It’s like I said, it’s like getting up and taking a high blood pressure medicine.

I originally interviewed this patient in 2009, for a book that I wrote. Since that time, he and his family have moved to the west coast, but I’ve stayed in contact with him. He’s been in relapse-free recovery for over eight years, he’s still on Suboxone, and still happy. He has excellent relationships with his wife and children, and his business has thrived and continues to grow.

He’s an excellent example of how a recovering addict’s life can change with the right treatment. For this person, Suboxone plus 12-step recovery worked great.

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18 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dbc910 on June 15, 2013 at 9:50 am

    This guy should have been charged with theft or fraud for racking up $50k on his company’s credit cards. It takes a person already capable of theft to steal. Addiction is no excuse, and definitely no defense in court.

    12-step recovery is fine. The biggest part is probably reduction of one’s ego, comradery, and accountability. Of course a bunch of random addicts are going to protest going to some meeting where they have to admit they are not in control of their own minds.

    This patient would be well advised to get off Suboxone before declaring himself victorious. After a decade of Suboxone myself, I am certain that it has a very negative effect on one’s mental and physical health (though, sure, better than abusing street drugs). It may make people productive, contributing members of society, but who wants to be on their death bed, looking back at their life, only to realize that they spent most of it under the influence of an extremely powerful drug? Not me.

    In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that the biggest problem with Suboxone doctors, in general, is that since the science says it’s better to stay on Suboxone than to risk a relapse, there’s not enough focus on getting patients off Suboxone. That should be the end goal, even if it is OK to stay on Suboxone indefinitely.

    Reply

    • Interesting comment.

      Because of tolerance, and because buprenorphine only partially stimulates the opioid receptors, this patient is not “under the influence of a powerful drug.” But that is a common misperception.

      I’m curious…how do you think this person’s recovery could improve if he got off suboxone?

      Reply

  2. Posted by Travis on June 16, 2013 at 1:20 am

    First of all i would like to say that the ignorance of people never fails to amaze me. There is plenty of factual evidence that taking large amounts of opiods over a long period of time alters the brains chemistry. In many cases the brain is unable to fully repair itself. This is why a large number of addicts experience withdrawl like symptoms even after the initial withdrawl is long over. And why some addicts may need to stay on a treatment medication forever.
    But the real reason that i am commenting is to say that methadone has its success stories too.
    My wife and i are both addicts and methadone along with counseling has not only saved our lives but is helping us rebuild them as well. We will have been on methadone for 2yrs in Nov. of this year. We lost 10yrs of our lives to our addiction. Morphine, oxy’s, percicet, ect were the controling factors of our very existence. Every waking min. was dedicated to these drugs. Before we fell victim to addiction we were both young with bright futures ahead of us. But once these drugs got their fangs into us we were trapped. All of our dreams took a back steat to opiods. We tried many times to quit and would, our longest stretch being for about 6 months. But every time we did quit we would get through the initial withdrawl and still feel sick. We would have no energry, sever muscle aches, and so on. So we went back to using again, more to not be sick than for the high.
    Now, after being on methadone we have been able to start rebuilding our lives. My wife has a good job and i attend college full time with a GPA of 4.0 . We are once again in control of our lives and look forward to a bright future. If we had not decided to give medication assistance a chance then who knows what horrors addiction would have brought our way. Eventually one or both of us would have either overdosed or be in jail. I thank God every day that we no longer live our old pointless, destructive exsistence.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Joy Auren on June 16, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    Love it! it takes a village. I am so grateful for my meds and my 12 steps. Together I can grow and heal. I have a whole network of people I can lean on. My addiction hates that!! Hey, I may not be where I want to be some days but I’m sure not where I used to be!!

    Reply

  4. Posted by Chenoa Brown on June 17, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    dbc910,

    Why is there such emphasis on whether or not this person can declare himself victorious due to his chosen method of remaining illicit-free in order to live a normal productive life? And also, what if he doesn’t get off of Suboxone and continues to declare himself victorious? What gives you the right to say what is in his best interest?

    It seems to me that the fact that this person was able to overcome all of these obstacles, regained the trust of his loved ones, become even more successful than before in his career, and then share his story says that he is, in fact, victorious. So what if a person can say that he/she is or is not in MAT anymore and still abstinent after a long period of time? How does that directly affect you so much that it has had such an impact on your life that you have deemed yourself judge and jury of this person?

    Recovery should not only mean, free from drug use. To me, recovery should mean that a person has developed the necessary skills to prevent all levels of relapse and is also fully aware of his/her surroundings so that the risk of losing control of a situation is reduced significantly. I would imagine that many in recovery know those situations to avoid and have prepared themselves adequately for those unexpected situations.

    Recovery is constant re-education and healthy-living practices to ensure success and if there is ever a slip-up, that’s all it has to be. A slip-up does not necessarily mean a relapse has occurred. Acceptance of what works for one person in recovery may not always be what works for another. It does not mean that one way is better than another or that there is only one way to “victory”.

    Addiction is already demeaning. Those who are in recovery do not need discouraging remarks that make their efforts toward recovery negated especially by those who are, themselves, in recovery. Recovering addicts benefit from uplifting one another not judging one another. They have already lived a part of their lives in judgment from their family, friends, coworkers, law enforcement, and in their own communities. The last thing they need is someone who “knows” where they’ve been or where they are to tell them that they still are not good enough.

    While your efforts into recovery is commendable, it is even greater a commendation to practice humility and encouragement to others on a different path.

    Dr. Burson, I appreciate and respect all that you do for all of your patients. I’m sure you’ve made more differences in their lives than you can possibly know. Thank you!

    Reply

    • thank you Chenoa! Hope all is well with you.

      Reply

      • I have been reading your blog now the past three days as I am in west tn and in a panic! I have been on subutex for five years now.

        Never relapsed from day one which was July 12, 2007! I have never failed a drug test. And the medical board pulled my chart along with several others at my drs office. Of course I am not suppose to know that. But I got discharged by a text message from office manager!! Never got to see my dr or nothing! I don’t understand and any advice would be great bc I have no clue what my rights are and these drs are hard to find and I would hate to have to open up to another psych!

        Office manager said I was non compliant bc of early refills. Note: the dr never gave me a warning nor had a problem with me! Never failed a drug test and subutex always showed up! and all early refills were from him! Never dr shopped etc. I have never sold nor stolen subutex and my heart is broke that I just all the sudden got dropped and I feel like its bc the medical board pulled my chart to review! Is that my fault? I am so sick over the whole situation. I have called atleast 20 other drs in the area who are not accepting and even tho I have been successful 5 years- I will have to act like a new beginner pt paying $300 cash first visit, then $200 cash one week later then 200 per month. When all I paid at the dr who discharged me was 150$ a month.

        The last dr visit dr told me he was proud of me – then boom – I get this text from OM personal phone: which included ” he said he is not losing his license” :”( Any advice?

        I did have one refill on the subutex and have 10 days worth now but in a panic! Thank you for your Blog! I truly have enjoyed it!! God Bless!

      • I think you need to talk with your doctor. He owes you an explanation. Personally I think it’s cowardly for a doctor to dismiss a patient without sitting down to discuss the issues. Several times I have been ready to dismiss a patient for something I thought I saw as a problem, but when I talked with the patient, there was an unexpected factor. Once, a pharmacist mistakenly entered a Valium prescription onto our prescription monitoring website. My patient did not get that prescription. It was totally an error. So there was no problem. In other situations, we’ve been able to come to an agreement. for example, when I have a patient who takes suboxone early, then runs out early, I talk about writing the prescription for one week at a time. That usually works. The patient has four co-pays per month, but is often willing to do that rather than go to an opioid treatment program where he has to come for his daily dose. And the patient doesn’t take medication early when he only has one weeks’ worth to begin with.

        If you can’t talk with your doctor, contact the medical board to find out what happened. In my state, doctors have to give 30 days’ notice that they plan to dismiss a patient from their practice. If your doctor thinks you are selling or misusing your medication, he still may not write a Suboxone prescription for those 30 days. But maybe the board can give you a better idea what happened and how to proceed.

        Yes, you would have to start over as a new patient with a new doctor, at first. But get your records from the old doctor sent to the new, and that should help decrease frequency of visits if you have a proven track record of doing well. I get new patients moving in from other areas, and the first visit is like any other new patient, so I can know their case & their issues. Then if I get records, I can decrease the frequency of their visits as I see fit. That’s the flexibility I have in an office setting compared to an opioid treatment program.

        If you can’t get into an office-based Suboxone program, consider going to the nearest opioid treatment program. Many of those programs are adding buprenorphine (suboxone) to their program, though you may have to attend daily, at least at first, in some states. I know CRC Health is adding buprenorphine to all of their opioid treatment programs, located in many states

      • Thank you for responding. I went to his office yesterday in memphis tn. There were two other patients there crying they were out of medicine and that they have called everyone and can’t get in! I am noticing he discharged several after medical board pulled charts with no explanation!

        I sat there for three hours! I asked for my medical records and a dismissal letter to show any new dr. I only got half of my records and was told the other half were in a box they would have to hunt for them! Those records prove my 5 years worth of clean drug test etc. I begged to speak with him for two mins. They (people running office said no he is too busy!) I said ok can I set up an appt and pay the 175$ to speak to him? The answer was no bc you have been dismissed!

        I have had the pharmacy check the database only to find he is only dr I get any medicine from. I have never received this kind of treatment.

        I know the memphis medical board pulled my chart for review then I got dropped like a bomb with out being able to speak with the dr.

        3 hours I was ignored, given partial records, and no dismissal letter! I said: ok tell dr to put me in inpatient rehab- office manager said no. I said ok the new drs told me to talk to him- office manager said no. I said there is nothing I can do to keep seeing him, NO!

        As I was sitting in a chair in shock another lady done the same way was talking- and the office manager said the DEA has made us refer y’all out!
        Humm I said ok can we call the DEA?
        She replied not gonna do any good!

        She told the other lady as she slapped the counter do you not realize his license is on the line?!

        Calmly I walked out amazed. I know in this field of medicine : suicide happens and I could not help to think what if the other patients kill their self over this? I was truly concerned for the others he had done this way.

        With only 4 days worth of medicine left I truly started to panic and started driving to dr offices. I found one, I took my records in and the dr there (actually good friends with the dr who discharged me) looked at my records and he said this is negligence and is not your fault and makes psychiatric doctors look bad. He went further to say the dose of subutex my previous 4 doctors had me on was tremendous! I told him humbly I realized that once I started reading forums this past month.

        At one time, I was allowed to take 7 1/2 subutex 8mg per day. I was told my tolerance over the years had built and that’s why I had to take more. This previous dr has allowed 6/day.
        I dropped from 6-5 25 days ago. I have had a headache for 25 days but I want off the junk! I explained all this to the new dr and he told me I had been in wrong place at wrong time and his normal dose is 16mg. I then told him wow my very first doctor started me out at 24 mg :”(

        He said we would taper slowly but either way it’s gonna be painful. I offered to go to rehab yest and I am ready for the pain!

        The word non compliance is no where in my chart! I have an appt with new dr today at 3:45, Thank God!! Today is my 8 yr anniversary and I hate this is what I will be doing but sadly I have been given no option! I am scared bc their dose is 3/day, and honestly my first thoughts were see this dr till I can find another: but after speaking with him, I think this is a (legit) where I am suppose to be kinda thing! I am sad that abusing prescribed hydrocodone for 6 months has turned into almost a 6 year treatment!!
        I am not addicted to hydrocodone by any means but am the subutex.

        I realized when I started seeing .4 mg and people having trouble getting off that dose- that I was in for a hell of a battle. But I am ready!

        Thank you so very much for responding bc I have never posted in any forum and when I did to you: I was at my wits end 🙂 I pray that I get my other records and a dismissal letter.

        And I will indeed call the board. I honestly didn’t want to call them bc I didn’t want to cause them any problems or any other dr for that matter! But I can’t help to think about all the patients he has done this way!

        He smiled at me thru the window tho as if nothing had happened?! I don’t understand. But the new dr is going to speak directly with him today: bc he don’t even believe he discharged me, not does the pharmacist. They believe the office managers are playing doctor.

        When a patient tells you admit me to rehab : please see them, they are pretty desperate! I know you would.

        And the $500 extra (up front new cost) will be well worth it if we can work together and get me off this subutex.

        Thank you again! I truly enjoy your blog! God bless and have Great week!

      • I’m proud of you for advocating for yourself. that’s not easy.

        I’m reading between the lines here…I suspect your doctor was investigated by either the medical board or DEA because of the high doses he’s been using, and maybe told he could no longer prescribe Suboxone. Now, the right thing to do would be plan referrals to other doctors so that patients aren’t left in the lurch like you have been. I hope you follow up on talking with the medical board. That board may have requested for him to stop prescribing suboxone but I’m pretty sure they didn’t want him to harm patients in the process.

        Here’s the good news for you: there’s no additional effect at doses above 24 to 32mg. In other words, you may be taking six or seven films per day, but that gives the same effect as three per day. You will be fine. Some people do struggle with suboxone taper, but overall – and I’ve treated many opioid addicts – most say it’s one of the easier withdrawals, compared to other opioids. But for others, it is very difficult. Most tapers take 4-6 months.

        Be sure you’ve had enough counseling before you taper off. Did your previous doctor provide that for you? If not, hopefully this new one will provide it or recommend a place where you can get counseling. Getting off the opioids is one thing, but staying off is the key, and counseling helps most people with that.

        Inpatient treatment is definitely an option – ask your new doctor about that if you prefer to go that route.

        I still think your doctor behaved cowardly.

      • The new dr knows nothing about me still!

        My meds right now:
        5 subutex tablets 8mg per day
        1 250 mg nuvigil
        2-3 1 mg Xanax (normally 1/2 of one only if I felt like throat was closing)

        She gave me 22 subutex! And follow up next tues.

        She said at first : no Xanax gonna use klonopin – then she asked how many Xanax i had and I said about 3 bottles full on my locked safe due to me not needing 4mg a day as prescribed. So then she changed her mind and told me to wean off- and no more than one per day total. Ok no problem ( I don’t think)

        No nuvigil- then she said well dont quit it just yet. ( she added that adderall isn’t addicting – which is the pill that about killed me, and I did quit cold turkey).

        Then 3/ day subutex and that she was good friends with previous dr and would call him. She acted as if she didn’t believe one word I said!

        I really hate that she said (as tears was filling my eyes) take four the next three days then take 3 and I will see you in one week.

        My problem is the script said SL 3/day. Drs don’t need to contradict

        I went to the same pharmacy who are well known and loved in memphis and they about had a heart attack when they seen the script. They felt so sorry for me.

        The weird part is / I asked again for a dismissal letter and my full chart which previous dr will not give me.

        The new dr didn’t want my medical records from previous dr. So I am definitely calling board in morning bc to ones eye : that could look like dr hopping. “Since the DEA quote has kicked us all out” maybe they can send me in the right direction since my dr won’t acknowledge me 🙂

        Coward isn’t even the word.

        Well he didn’t provide that much counseling but I am at a point:

        I can go methadone( which have never done and don’t want)

        I can dr hop
        I can jump from 5 to 3
        I can go to rehab- which I offered yest

        No one cares! And I am not doing anything illegal so #3 is what I will try. It’s like honesty blows these drs away and they rather you lie to them. She was in such a hurry that she didn’t notice the one part of contract I didn’t initial was “I will only take med as prescribed and not alter the dose myself”-

        That’s how honest I was!!!! She was too busy to check DEA database and or the contract! I told her I won’t lie I don’t know if I can jump from 5-3.

        She didn’t give me a choice so thank you for responding again- I have a little more hope on the 3 deal after your last post 🙂

        I am seriously praying his patients find help bc this is not fun and some meds can’t be stopped! I hope they are ok too. And sadly there is no where to turn for them 😦 sad sad and neglect as one dr put it. I don’t know but I appreciate your time and help more than you will ever know!

        Thank you and God Bless!!!! 🙂

      • Hi,
        Well I made it on 4 1/4 subutex yesterday and trying to make it on 4 today. Don’t feel so hot but have no choice.

        I apparently am too dumb for the Internet. I have called several phone numbers trying to find the memphis tn medical board….and have called wrong numbers. I do want them to know what this doctor or office manager done/ not out of revenge- but bc of all the other patients that I fear have been put out in harms way.
        If you can help in any way- I sure would appreciate it.

        All I know is it was the “medical board” that pulled my chart for review and then I got discharged.

        I can’t find the right number 😦
        So sorry to take up any more of your time and thanks in advance 🙂

      • turns out that in TN they call themselves the Board of Medical Examiners, and are under the Department of Health. Here’s their website and toll free number:
        http://health.state.tn.us/boards/Me/complaints.htm

        1-800-778-4123

      • Thank you!! I have called 10 different places in memphis and finally got UT medical group- and I bluntly asked the administrator/ I am looking for the board who reviews pain clinic charts….she said I have no idea what your talking about and hung up. Humm these drs must stick up for one another. Thanks sooo much! Truly thanks!!!

    • I am so grateful I found this site. Having had at one time 18 years clean,(Heroin etc) after 3 surgeries became addicted to the oxy’s etc. Struggled with even admitting to myself (shame-disbelief) I got lucky to discover Suboxone. Its been 10 years and I seem to get a lot of grief about not “being Really Clean” But I’m not shopping doctors, Not going to the spoon, no alcohol, etc. I am very content. I don’t want to feel guilt. Meetings are helpful, BUT everyone seems concerned and wants to help me “get clean” Thank You for the insight. I feel so much better finding the site.

      Reply

  5. I’ve been approached by patients and others asking about how they might go about finding the right sponsor in NA if they are on buprenorphine. Some are scared that if they let people in the meetings know, they will be blackballed. Yet they have to open up and talk to people if they want to find a sponsor. Any pointers?

    Reply

    • Hello Dr. Manejwala! Excellent question and I wish I had a good answer. I tell patients to listen and watch the people in their recovery groups. Some 12-step members do exude a “there’s one way to do recovery and it’s my way” attitude, while other members express sentiments to the effect of “Whatever works.” It’s a risk to open up to people in meetings, but I do know there are people willing to sponsor people who are prescribed medications, including buprenorphine.

      Reply

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