John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Suboxone

jyb_musingsKudos to Laura Ungar of the Courier-Journal for her clear-eyed, bold and much needed investigative piece on Suboxone. It isn’t critical as much as asks (and attempts to answer) sobering questions after the much heralded anti-addiction drug has now had time to demonstrate if it has been as effective as it’s early champions heralded it would be.

Four years ago, I agreed to disagree with several doctors –in a discussion that turned contentious at times– that Suboxone, alone, was all many addicts needed to overcome their drug addiction.

The doctors, well-meaning but short sighted, in my view, insisted on the above position and dismissed my skepticism because I wasn’t a trained medical expert.

That is a tough position to be in if you are trying to convince someone of your opinion who is a “trained medical expert.” So I backed away without backing down entirely.

I don’t have medical training and they each did. They knew and cited studies and treatment outcome data. All I had is that in my experience people, including doctors, who felt supremely confident in themselves in successfully treating the deeply mysterious and heart wrenching disease of addiction, eventually had their over-confidence displaced by humility.

I wish that weren’t the case and that there were a kind of “magic pill” to fix an addiction to other kinds of “magic pills.” But it’s not that easy. As I said then, and still believe, some medications may serve the equivalent role of “water wings” to someone trying to beat addiction–help them float while they are trying to learn to swim. But water wings, by themselves, are only a tool, and a limited one at that. Especially if you are trying to learn to swim and they are the only thing between you and drowning.



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