Utilizing Suboxone in Combination with Treatment
While Dr. Wassef says he believes wholeheartedly in the effectiveness of Suboxone in the treatment of opioid use disorders, he had a change of heart about two years ago on how the medication should be utilized. He came to believe that Suboxone should not be used as a standalone treatment option, rather it should only be used in conjunction with a professional addiction treatment program like the ones offered at Guardian.
“I used to do Suboxone Maintenance without a treatment program but I stopped,” he said. “The main reason is because I felt that by giving patients the drug without having a program to teach them new skills was kind of like re-enforcing their drug use behavior. Eventually those patients started to do tricks and experiment and get high. So I stopped. I decided that medication has to be given only when the patient is in a program.”
Without an addiction treatment program, Dr. Wassef said using Suboxone is like using a life vest without learning how to swim.
“If you are not learning how to swim or learning any new skills, then once I remove the life jacket you will sink,” he said. “That’s exactly the same with Suboxone. Suboxone is a tool but it needs to be used by experienced addiction professionals in a program.”
Suboxone buys us time. It buys us time so that we can teach our patients new skills and help them change their lifestyles, experience less hectic lives, less stress and less craving.
One of the common criticisms of Suboxone Maintenance is that individuals are exchanging one addiction for another. This is only accurate if an individual is not in a program, continuously tapering the dose down and learning new coping skills and recovery behaviors. At Guardian IOP, clients take part in a full schedule of individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, 12-Step program education, holistic treatments and life skills workshops that help them learn the tools they need to stay sober long-term. By the time an individual graduates from one of Guardian’s IOP programs, they have been tapered off of Suboxone and have practice living life sober without its aid.