Medicine

Sometimes drug + drug means suffering

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Posted By Dr. Blanche

Read the story of my patient David, who was addicted to heroin.

David was having horrible withdrawals from heroin when he checked into rehab. While any detox is difficult, heroin and other opioids cause some of the most uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, both physically and psychologically, and David had almost all of them. On his first day without heroin, he was sweating profusely and vomited several times. He reported feeling nauseous, anxious and depressed. David had intense cravings for heroin during detox and admitted he would have used to make the pain and cravings stop if he had been trying to detox at home rather than at my facility. 

Unlike most other addictive substances, there are medications available for opioid addiction. Of course, the idea is never to replace one addictive substance with another, and the goal is to be off all medications for addiction eventually. Suboxone is one such medication for heroin addiction. Suboxone works in the brain by making it so that when a patient uses heroin or other opioids, they are unable to experience pleasure from the drug. They will still feel effects but could become sick or nauseous instead of feeling a pleasurable high. It also helps reduce the physical cravings for heroin. It’s kind of like that bitter-tasting ointment people put on their fingertips to stop biting their nails; it keeps addicts from enjoying the experience. 

David starting using heroin at what he described as one of the lowest points in his life. He had lost his job, and as a result, custody of his children. He started drinking heavily and moved to heroin to escape his feelings of loneliness and helplessness. He said the heroin made him feel euphoric, and then nothing. He said feeling nothing was so much better than the crushing depression he used to feel daily.

David is now off the Suboxone and is completely sober. He takes antidepressant medication and has found a new job, and is working on getting legal custody of his children again. He regularly attends Narcotics Anonymous meetings to help maintain his sobriety.

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