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Suboxone and Subutex Information: Drug Dependence & Addiction
DEPENDENCE AND ADDICTION
There is a great deal of confusion about the difference between dependence and addiction.
You are said to be dependent on any substance from which you experience uncomfortable symptoms when you stop taking the substance.
It doesn’t have to be an opioid like OxyContin or methadone to create dependence. Many of us have become dependent on sugar or caffeine. When we tried to stop eating sugar or drinking coffee or caffeinated beverages, we experienced uncomfortable symptoms—headaches, cramps or others, for example.
However, for the person becoming dependent on opioids, the withdrawal symptoms can be much more uncomfortable and can continue for longer periods of time. In fact, many people who have become dependent on these drugs no longer take them because they need them to block pain signals but because they don’t want to go through the painful withdrawal that will occur when they stop taking the drug.
Addiction is the condition where a person will modify their behavior and even do destructive things to satisfy the craving created by a drug. They may have originally taken the drug to block pain signals but they continued taking the drug because it allowed them to “feel” a certain way or avoid feeling a certain way.
People who become addicted to these drugs are also dependent on the drugs and will experience not only the pain of withdrawal but also the emotional pain of no longer having the drug modify the way they feel.
HOW DO THESE DRUGS CREATE DEPENDENCY AND ADDICTION?
Our bodies are incredibly sophisticated at doing things for us. If the body senses that a particular chemical is needed, unless there is some structural problem, it will try to produce the chemical. If someone is using a chemical, like OxyContin for example, to download endorphins by stimulating endorphin activity, their brain senses that it doesn’t need to produce the natural chemicals to make endorphins. The brain decreases its own endorphin production and relies on the drugs.
You need endorphins to keep from getting very sick—the worst flu only ten times worse. If the brain is not creating endorphins but relying on the opioid, then if you stop taking the opioids you will not have enough endorphin production and will get very sick.
PAIN HAS A PURPOSE
Like all sensations in our body, such as thirst or hunger for example, pain serves a useful purpose for us. Pain is used by the body to indicate that there is a problem that needs to be handled.
We have had a number of patients come to Novus to detox from opioids who began to experience a toothache as they were withdrawing. The toothache got worse and we took them to a dentist. What the dentist found was that they needed not just a cavity filled, but the decay had progressed to the point where a root canal or even an extraction was required. The opioids had flooded the brain with endorphins and prevented the early signs of tooth decay from reaching the brain. Had they not been on the opioids, they would have felt the pain, gone to the dentist and had the cavity filled.
Other patients on opioids relate how they permanently damaged their backs because they were working in construction and lifted too much. Without the opioids, when you lift too much you will feel the pain or discomfort in your back and know that you need to stop. However, because of the opioids the pain warnings never reached the brain so they just kept hurting their backs until the damage was irreversible.
From one of our patients:
“All the staff were great. The food was 5 of 5. The housekeeping was 5 of 5.
I learned a very important lesson. There is always hope, and a second shot at life.”
If you want information about Suboxone or Subutex detoxification, call Novus Medical Detox Center.
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