The story that changed my opinion on suboxone

Suboxone- a prescription drug used to treat heroin addiction.

The furthest my education on the substance has stretched is from tv shows where people use it to get high.

Wait what?!

They are treating heroin addiction by replacing one high for another?!

When a former heroin addict is using suboxone, are they even really clean?

It all sounds like a pretty dysfunctional system to me.

Or is it…?

I hate heroin.

Heroin took my childhood best friend and changed her into a person who made my skin crawl.

Two years of lies, anxiety, and HELL before I had to close the door on that friendship for good. (Read To the friend that isn’t a friend anymore.)

But it still hurts.

It hurts that a drug can completely change a person like that.

I know it’s an illness but as a former addict myself, there comes a time when you have to look your crap in the face and grow up.

Did you know that less than 10% of heroin addicts achieve remission?

Instead the majority of heroin addicts will die as compulsive liars who wronged you time and time again… “victims to a self inflicted illness”.

Heroin changes people.

My friendship used to be the most natural thing on earth and the new relationship, with the addict, gave me panic attacks.

When you start using heroin your entire vibe changes.

As one of the most loyal friends on the planet, it took so much strength to say goodbye, especially to someone with our history.

But controversially, I had to.

I had to choose me.

And that is why I despise heroin with every bone in my freaking body.

God has a way of putting people in your life at the right time.

Simultaneously to the loss of one friendship, a brand new one began to blossom.

In no time at all, my new friend and I were attached at the hip.

I admire the way she carries herself.

She holds herself to this radiating sense of accountability- she owns her crap!

As a single mom who works full time overnight shifts, WITHOUT A CONSISTENT SCHEDULE, she still schedules play dates multiple times a week.

She’s an incredible mom and amazing person all the way around.

She doesn’t use her situation as an excuse.

The friendship has just been easy.

Our values are so aligned and in no time, God had affirmed my decision.

When she told me that she was a former heroin addict, I was shocked.

“What?! NO WAY!!! But you are so normal?!?!

That is when I learned a powerful lesson about suboxone.

After a long, eye-opening conversation, my stance on suboxone has changed entirely.

Here are some of the points that helped me get there.

1) Generally addicts aren’t the most reliable sources, however, wearing your faults in regards to addiction like clothing is assuring when speaking to your sobriety.

2) Anything has the potential to be abused. Benadryl, dust off, laundry pods. When you use something in a way other than it was intended to be used, it becomes abuse. Just because some people choose to eat laundry pods, doesn’t mean we should stop selling them for the reason in which they are intended– hence why they are still on the shelves.

3) Addicts are obviously more likely to abuse anything, making suboxone treatment a slippery slope. This also plays a large part to this stigma surrounding suboxone- including my own opinion at one time. The 90ish percent of heroin addicts who aren’t able to achieve remission ARE likely abusing their suboxone.

4) Withdrawing from heroin won’t kill you but, it’s not for the faint of souls. Until a person is ready to stand up and start fighting for themselves, nothing is going to change.

5) When you use heroin, the drug triggers dopamine (what the brain receptors ignite as “pleasure”). American addiction centers explaining the effects of heroin use on the brain in simple terms. “Opiates, especially opiates as potent as heroin, activate the brain’s receptors to an incredibly dangerous degree, far greater than anything the brain can produce by itself. For this reason, heroin is abused as a recreational drug. Then, it is consistently abused because there is no other experience that can compare to blast of bliss and subsequent contentment that come with shooting up.”

6) American addiction centers citing, “repeated exposure to heroin is not only habit forming; the constant bombarding of a devastatingly powerful opioid on the brain’s receptors changes the structure of the brain itself, which in turn affects its neuronal and hormonal systems. Heroin erases the brain’s ability to produce dopamine and instead takes over how the user perceives pleasure and satisfaction.” Heroin use literally rewires the way your brain operates.

7) Suboxone, along with a couple of other rx drugs, are available to treat these changes in the brain. Suboxone.com stating, “known as a partial agonist, it (the active ingredient in suboxone) can attach to the same receptors as other opioids and reduce their effects by blocking them from the same receptors.”

8) My friend admitted that if you haven’t used opioids in awhile the initial use or two as directed might give you a little “kick”. After that, it just takes away the feeling of drowning in your new brain chemistry. Clean for just over 6 years when she moved to Colorado. She said that until she was able to find a new prescriber out here, the cravings were ridiculous. She couldn’t focus. All she could think about was heroin.

I held her through tears, realizing that without this prescription drug that I naively put a label on, I wouldn’t have my angel friend right now.

Instead my perfect little friend is functioning like super woman; Fighting to keep her life on track.

If you asked me a couple weeks ago what I thought of suboxone, it wouldn’t have been an enthusiastic answer.

Today I’d tell you that I endorse suboxone treatment because the 9-10% of heroin addicts who decide to choose life MATTER!

This is a lifeline for recovered heroin addicts; a chance to really have a shot at life again after a bad choice that they can’t ever take back.

I’ve seen the complete terror of heroin addiction; Now I’m pleased to see a beautiful success story involving suboxone.

Similar to an antidepressant, suboxone treatment could potentially be a lifelong commitment.

“I don’t care how long I have to be on it if it keeps me clean.”

Touché.

Check out my blog Project Identity for more! ❣️

What I didn’t know about addiction

When I got sober it was a fairly unique situation.

The day I quit drinking was also the very first day I wanted to quit drinking.

A couple days of seizures on the bathroom floor was enough to start anew.

It wasn’t until recently that I learned how much my personal experience has clouded my opinion on addicts.

To me, alcohol was an escape from myself.

I hated myself.

I hated my life.

Numb was the only way that I could continue functioning.

Alcohol was that door to checking out from reality and entering a world where I just didn’t care.

With booze, life always seemed less real.

I didn’t annoy myself as much when I was drunk.

The bottle was my ticket to escaping the life I couldn’t bare anymore.

My brother had his own struggles with addiction.

It would be years after my new leaf of living that nightmare with him before things turned around.

The only thing more difficult than addiction itself is watching a loved one throw away their life for it.

Your life becomes a living hell while they are escaping this reality with substance.

“I promise you that life in sobriety is fun T!!! PLEASE just give it a try and find out!!!”

I pleaded, for years on end.

The best word to describe myself in this plea would be naive.

Naive to feeling that every addict is running from reality.

Naive to think that my brother just liked being drunk too much to quit.

A couple weekends ago we were visiting my now 20 MONTH SOBER brother for fall festivities!

It’s MY FAVORITE family tradition we’ve created!

Our life is so normal now.

We get together and do things as siblings and I swear those are some of the best memories of our lives.

Day one we went to the most badass park I’ve ever seen! 👇

Day two we went to a corn maze and pumpkin patch!👇

And day three, during family breakfast, we talked about where we’ve been and how far we’ve come.

“Man T… I can’t believe you made it! I’m so proud of you!!!”

I professed.

“I had to stop or I was going to die. I’d wake up with ridiculous anxiety and start having panic attacks. It would feel like I was having a heart attack and the only way to make it stop was the booze. It was like a 24/7 never ending hangover.”

Tears started streaming down my face as I realized how much I hadn’t understood about his addiction.

Here I am, preaching to my brother about how cool life is when you aren’t confused all the time, and he wasn’t even confused…. he was sick.

He confessed the fine line of “sipping and driving”.

In other words he wasn’t drinking just to drink.

At just 29 years old, his body was beginning to show signs of long term alcohol abuse.

His body was reliant on alcohol and was literally shutting down without it.

Longer drives required greater focus and when he was “under-medicated” the withdrawal symptoms were so intense that he would end up pulling over for hours at a time in attempt to stop his heart from bursting out of his chest.

He wasn’t drinking to be drunk- he was drinking to stay alive.

He had punched the ticket but he no longer wanted to ride the ride.

“I was embarrassed with myself for how bad it had gotten. I would have died trying to detox on my own. There was a lot of shame in what it had become and the reality of those choices. It was like drowning and waiting for somebody to save you.”

The day his second niece was born was the day my brother amounted the courage to chase his lion.

“I need this to stop and I don’t know how.”

He admitted to a buddy of trust.

Thank you for hearing him, Carl.

It took ten days in detox before being medically cleared for inpatient rehab.

Detox from alcohol is a serious thing!

My brother put in some insanely hard work as he fought for his life.

**Did you know- detoxing from heroin isn’t deadly (though it feels like it), but detoxing from alcohol can be?!**

20 months later my brother is still prioritizing his recovery as an AA sponsor.

God gave me my brother back and I am beyond grateful for this.

I’m thankful that I have a sibling to enjoy life with.

I’m thankful I’m not living in a nightmare anymore.

I’m thankful for his journey, and the new understanding it has given me about addicts.

We are all different so it makes sense that no addiction is the same.

Every addict is running- our differences lie in what is chasing us.

Thank you for using your story to help others T.

I love you.

Check out my blog Project Identity for more. ❤️