Suboxone for Chronic Pain
Suboxone is a new medication showing promise in chronic pain treatment. Chronic pain is a serious health issue that costs the United States approximately $60 billion dollars annually in lost productivity. People coping with chronic pain deal with emotional and financial ramifications plus the stigma that comes with being a “pain patient.”
Pain medication is an essential treatment option for chronic pain. Prescription Opioids are at the center of a prescription drug abuse epidemic, so their use is shrouded in controversy.
What is Suboxone?
Suboxone is a combination medication called an agonist-antagonist. Buprenorphine is the main ingredient in Suboxone. Reckitt Benckiser, the manufacturer, added Naloxone to minimize abuse by injection. Suboxone was developed to treat people with an opiate addiction ( Buprenorphine-Medication Assisted Therapy (B-MAT)) in a doctor’s office rather than a clinic for methadone maintenance. The Buprenorphine is the medication that treats pain and the Naloxone is an opiate blocker (also called an opiate antagonist).
Opiate dependent people can use Suboxone to quit pain pills, heroin, and other opiates. Suboxone and Subutex are effective pain medicines for chronic pain. These medications prove especially useful for chronic pain patients who become addicted or dependent on their opiate prescriptions.
Suboxone has limitations. No pain medicine works for everyone. Candidates for Suboxone/Buprenorphine have chronic pain and/or opiate dependency, but it is not used for short-term pain relief. Suboxone has not been FDA approved for pain management in the United States so its use for chronic pain is off-label. The UK, New Zealand, and Australia have used it for pain for many years.
Getting Suboxone for Chronic Pain
One of the best ways to get Suboxone for chronic pain is to ask for it. If you are currently treated at a pain management clinic, talk to your pain management doctor. Pain clinics are one place to find Suboxone doctors.
Suboxone is an alternative to other long term pain medications like Oxycontin and Methadone. Suboxone works well for a lot of people. Using Suboxone for chronic pain gives patients steady relief, helps curb withdrawals, it fights cravings, and normalizes any bad effects the pain pills had. There is no shame in admitting that you hurt your knee or neck, had surgery, took pain pills, got hooked, and liked the feeling. Opioids are one of the most addicting, feel good substances. Suboxone is an opiate, but it works a bit differently in the brain. Suboxone has a ceiling effect that prevents people from, so regardless of how much you take, you wont get higher. This is one of the appeals of using it for opiate addiction treatment.
There are FDA medical trials around the country to test Suboxone for its use as a pain pill. When it is officially approved as a pain treatment then perhaps they’ll come out with some better ways for pain patients to utilize it, like a Suboxone pain patch. Currently, the manufacturer just came out with the Suboxone sublingual film*, an improvement on the Suboxone tablets. The Suboxone film is available for pain patients, too. Even though you might see online that it is not used for pain, do not let that fool you. Suboxone is being used for chronic pain. When used as a pain medication Suboxone is often taken 3-4 times per day. This prevents withdrawal from opiates. Suboxone is a good alternative for people with opiate dependence and chronic pain.
Suboxone Doctors and Prescribing Suboxone for Chronic Pain
Suboxone is still quite new and most doctors do not know enough about it. This is primarily because in order for it to become approved as an office based opiate treatment plan, the government limited the doctor to patient ratio. Each Suboxone doctor has a limited number of patients, has to maintain a log (for numbers purposes, not names), and the ratio is too small. But most doctors and definitely patients don’t know all of these things. For doctors who have heard of Suboxone, it’s usually regarding addiction and they may think you’re an addict. Unfortunately, because of this, patients who use Suboxone for chronic pain are stigmatized (further!). The general lack of knowledge about Suboxone and the fear of prescribing it has created a huge shortage of Suboxone doctors. As with most things, when the demand is larger than the supply, there are hypocritical doctors taking advantage. To become certified to prescribe Suboxone a physician must go through a short amount of training. Some doctors take the Suboxone training then charge outrageous prices of desperate patients. Some of these bad Suboxone doctors even manipulate potential patients on the telephone calls. For example, a very popular line the doctors are use is,
You will save so much money by coming in and seeing me because you will no longer spending it on drugs.
Some Suboxone doctors run cash schemes on patients who feel desperate to quit opiates. Be cautious of these doctors. Write down their phone number and what they said if you encounter one when you try to get a Suboxone doctor for chronic pain.
Cons of Using Suboxone to Treat Chronic Pain
The main problem people may have when they use Suboxone for chronic pain is the inability to use other opiates with it. The good and bad thing about Suboxone is that it blocks the effects of other opiates because it has such a strong affinity for the opiate receptors. If you want to take medication for the breakthrough pain then you will have to talk with your doctor about other options because taking short-term opiates doesn’t work. Utilizing Ibuprofen, massage therapy, acupuncture, medical marijuana, and other types of pain reducers are the only option during Suboxone therapy. One surprisingly good topical analgesic is Voltaren Gel.
If you are your doctor decide that Suboxone is right for you then make sure to discuss breakthrough pain and also tell your doctors in advance if you need to have surgery or procedures involving anesthesia. You’ll have to stop your Suboxone for a couple of days.
Suboxone is expensive. Methadone is cheap. Find out if it is covered by your insurance plan. There are Medicare Part D insurances that cover Suboxone and Buprenorphine. It may be covered differently if it’s used for pain, but it’s not covered well at all when it’s used for opiate addiction. More companies will offer Suboxone prescription coverage as time goes on.
Suboxone is a good alternative for people with chronic pain, especially those that do not have good pain relief with their current medications.
Common Suboxone misspellings: Suboxon, Soboxone, Suboxen, Bupenorphine, Bupenofin, Suboxin