To understand how Suboxone failed me, it’s important to first understand how Suboxone was meant to be my savior. Suboxone was created by the pharmaceutical company, Indivior, and approved by the FDA in 2002. It was created to help control the addiction of opioid abusers. In 2014, heroin ran rampant throughout most of the Northeast States in the U.S., as it took to the valleys and small towns by storm nearly doubling in sales in comparison to other opioid street drugs.
Where It All Began
I just turned 19 and started my sophomore year at the local community college. I lived in a small valley in Pennsylvania. It wasn’t apparent in high school, but in college I noticed that the people that were into trying drugs seemed to hang out in cliques.
I was an avid pot smoker, so I was easily welcomed. It didn’t take me very long to network myself with some of the dealers on campus. In high school you were only able to find prescription pills and pot, so the new options that were available in college were kind of shocking. I promised myself in high school to stay clear of anything other than marijuana.
I had done a good job of it too, until my junior year when I got drunk at a party near campus. We were out of pot and close to running out of beers when one of the freshman students, we’ll call Stan, offered us an alternative. He had scored some heroin earlier and said it was the best he’d ever gotten. Although I was nervous to try it, the alcohol in me quickly suppressed my fears. He cut me a line and promised I’d have a good time.
It was an exhilarating feeling of euphoria I had never experienced before, but the next day I was exhausted and felt lousy during my morning class. I remember telling myself I would never do it again while lighting a joint and walking to my 10AM biology class. Two weeks later I was wielding a 7-beer duct-taped wizards staff at a party when I was presented the opportunity to try heroin again. In a drunken and stoned state, I was unable to remind myself that I promised to never try it again. It didn’t even cross my mind when he said it was better than the last batch.
And then again, I woke up the next morning feeling groggy and really unsatisfied. This time however, the euphoric buzz from hours earlier was definitely still on my mind. I lit a joint and began the trek to biology, again. The joint didn’t help this time though. The class dragged on and I could only focus on the clock and looking forward to getting out of there at 11:30am. I knew the freshmen had class in the same room right after me and so I was likely to see Stan (the dealer).
As soon as he entered the room he glanced at me knowing why I was waiting. He quickly dodged the classroom and decided to skip class to join me. We rushed back to his dorm room, and before I knew it, the clock was at twenty past four and seemed to be ticking very slowly. It hit me that I was already late for my second class of the day. I told myself this wasn’t like me, and I didn’t want to continue. Needless to say, I wasn’t able to stop.
By the end of the semester my GPA dropped two grade letters, and money became very tight. Realizing I was falling into a rabbit hole I sought help. I told my parents about my problem and told them I would be dedicated to getting better. I was in a rehab within the next twenty-four hours. I went on to complete a month of rehabilitation and was released with a plan of how to better my life.
It all started with my introduction to Suboxone. I was told that everyday I would be given a dosage of Suboxone, a drug approved by the FDA to assist in controlling addiction. I was prescribed to take it once a day for the next six months. The road to recovery was upon me, and I already knew it was going to be a long and gruesome journey.
To my surprise, the first two weeks really went well. Every day the craving to use heroin slowly faded out. I even made it two days without the Suboxone. I was extremely proud of myself as I ended the month with leftover packets. I felt life had really turned around — Not realizing it was turning for the worse.
To celebrate my accomplishments, I had gone to a party and told myself I would be okay. I passed up a joint, I passed up a beer, I even passed up a cigarette. Then everyone began taking a shot to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I refrained from doing it, but one by one people lined up to take a shot. It was when a girl I had a crush on was up next to take the shot when I decided I too was ready for one. I took the shot and felt the burn. I was turned off from it.
I got home the next morning and the craving to get high started creeping up on me. I tried fighting it off and it just kept popping into my mind. I went to my mother and told her I was craving, and she gave me a dosage of Suboxone. Within the hour I was placed into the euphoria that I had been craving. I realized that Suboxone also gave me what I had been pursuing, without triggering worry from my parents.
I started telling my mother I was craving everyday, so she would give me the Suboxone without question, feeling like she was helping me. I realized that I had a six month supply and fell into routine of taking it everyday. Soon my mother began letting me take it on my own, which naturally lead me to begin sneaking extra doses.
I wanted more and I wanted it quicker. I researched online and found out a way to break up the Suboxone to be snorted and/or injected.
Suboxone is made up of Buprenorphine and Naloxone. Buprenorphine is known as an agonist, which is found in opioids that release endorphins into the receptors and stimulate the body. Naloxone is an antagonist which enters the receptors and fills them before the endorphins can be released from the opioid.
When taken in ways other than instructed it will release the Naloxone first and not allow the endorphins to enter the receptors. Naloxone also expels endorphins from previously present receptors. It causes all of the Buprenorphine to scatter throughout the body with nothing to attach to and results in vomiting to expel from your body. I certainly didn’t know this before doing so.
I instantly went into a full blown withdrawal. The symptoms mirrored those of a heroin withdrawal, only intensified. It was honestly the most uncomfortable and painful experience of my life. I got the chills everywhere in my body, was easily aggravated, and my restless legs felt as though they were never going to stop twitching. Vomiting continued and when there was nothing left to come up, I laid on the bathroom floor, dry heaving. I stayed there for hours, because the only comfort I could find was feeling the coolness of the tiles on face. I reached a point that my Suboxone use far outnumbered my heroin use.
What was supposed to be the savior to restoring my life had become my biggest battle. I knew I had hit rock-bottom after placing another strip under my tongue within only one hour of feeling the signs of withdrawal. Defeated, I began trying to split up the doses I had left. Within two months my six month supply had run barren.
Near the end of my supply, my mother realized I wasn’t going to be able to control my addiction. She was running out of ideas on how to save my life.
Time To Intervene
The day arrived when I had to face the reality that I was down to my last prescribed strip of Suboxone. I woke up that morning still craving. I knew I only had one left and instantly went to find my mother. I remember walking downstairs following the sound of her voice thinking about how this was it, my last dosage. As I turned the corner, I walked into what seemed like a surprise birthday party.
It was strange because there wasn’t any streamers or cake. I remember thinking that it wasn’t anyone’s birthday either. Looking around the room, I saw my mother, two aunts, grandmother, my father (who I hadn’t seen in two years), and a woman I didn’t know.
She quickly stood up and introduced herself. She told me her name was Jane. At that moment it all made sense, I knew what was happening. I just entered an intervention. I was directed to sit in between my mother and father and was surrounded by my other family as well. My mother was already filled with tears and sobbing before she even started reading.
Seeing my mother that heartbroken, hearing her voice crumble after each word of her letter, tore me apart. Deeper and deeper the letters continued breaking me down. I reached the point where I couldn’t continue hurting them like this. After the last letter, Jane stood up and began speaking to me about my options.
I was given the option to continue Suboxone for another three months, or receive a detox and twenty-one day rehabilitation treatment to completely end all opioid use. My cravings began kicking in after she offered me an extension. The drug always made itself my top priority.
Feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, I rushed out of the living and up the stairs. By the time I got to my bedroom, my craving was the only thing that I could concentrate on. I was almost certain that I’d take an extension. I was out of the room for what seemed like an eternity, not realizing it had only been a few minutes. I swung the door open and walked into my mother whom was absolutely defeated and on the floor.
This was the pinnacle of heartbreak. Obliterated, I ran over to cry with her and accepted the option of rehabilitation. I chose that because I saw how much my family really loved me. I saw the unconditional love and indescribable lengths they would go to help me. I realized I was hurting more than myself everyday. I affected my family every single day. I affected their thoughts, I controlled their fears, I ran them to their limits. This drug had completely taken over.
Life Without Suboxone
Today, I have been drug free for 4 and a half months. Everyday is a struggle, and everyday it lurks. I still do not feel 100% and sometimes even feel some withdrawal symptoms. Many of the staff at the facility I went to, told me that I am not feel completely better for 6 months or more. My detox process with Suboxone has been, by far, much worse in comparison to that of my detox with heroin.
However, I am blessed. I have been given a chance to continue my previous life. I will be entering my senior year at college this month. Addiction can easily control your life. It’s important to know that it is a long journey with many bumps in the road. You will have weak days and you will have strong days. If you’ve walked this path, it’s most important to know that YOU CAN MAKE IT. Help is available, but you must be ready to accept it.
Please share my story with your friends and loved ones. It’s easy to place trust in something like Suboxone since it has government approval, but doing so would be like believing there should be less murders by guns because the government approves of gun ownership. It’s important for us to recognize that as individuals, not all of our government’s approvals will benefit us. Government approvals are often executed to serve a segment of the population. Unfortunately, these approvals don’t always account for our individual-immediate interests and/or needs and can sometimes simply delay the inevitable. Addiction is on the rise in the U.S., as 23.5 million Americans are addicted to drugs and / or alcohol. That’s approximately 1 in every ten Americans over the age of 12, or estimably the entire population of Texas. Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137%, including a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (opioid pain relievers and heroin). By approving the use of Suboxone, the FDA will hope to improve these numbers by offering addicts what they believe is a more controlled form of usage. The question that we should all be asking ourselves however… Do we just want to be another number in the next set of statistics that report on how many people were prescribed Suboxone and then relapsed back to heroin when their prescription ran out; or, do we want to be a member of the smaller number of survivors who knows that putting a band aid on a severe wound just leads to more problems, and that seeking treatment and stopping all of our drug use is most definitely the better option.
Are you or someone you love addicted to Suboxone and not sure what to do about it? Clearbrook understands. You were told Suboxone was going to help you with your opioid addiction, but instead you find yourself addicted and craving this medication. We can help.
For more than 40 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been effectively treating alcoholism and chemical dependency. Because Suboxone addiction can be so complex, we have created customized treatment plans geared to address the specific withdrawal symptoms, cravings and thinking that coincides with the Suboxone addict. If you are interested in a better way of life, free from the mental obsession to use, contact our Admissions Specialists today.