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Buprenorphine Treatment (ie. Suboxone, Zubsolv)

Individuals who have a history of narcotic dependence frequently have difficulty in finding solutions to their dependence. Many times, these people were initially prescribed pain medications as appropriate medical treatment for a specific condition, but then were unable to stop using the drugs after the condition improved. The problem of medication abuse then commonly becomes worse to the point that it adversely affects most aspects of the person’s life, including personal relationships, job situations, and general health. 

Suboxone is one of several branded medications, otherwise known by the chemical name buprenorphine.  This group of medications helps affected patients function in a more stable manner, while significantly decreasing most of the cravings which are typical of many other prescription narcotics, as well as of some illicit drugs.  A separate license is required to prescribe suboxone and zubsolv, and practitioners who are interested in prescribing them must complete special training in order to obtain that license. 

Dr. Schnitzer prescribes buprenorphine for appropriate patients. Usually, these patients have been referred by a substance abuse counselor, or other therapist. The ‘suboxone’ program involves two parts, both of which are required for the patient to participate. The first is regularly scheduled visits to a counselor, with written documentation reviewed by Dr. Schnitzer. This part of care is crucial. The individual who has been dependent on opiates will require behavioral strategies to adequately adjust to the normal situations and stresses of life again. These social skills were either lost, or never properly developed, as a result of narcotic abuse. 

The second part of treatment consists of scheduled monthly office visits with Dr. Schnitzer. During these visits, the patient will be asked about how he or she is functioning at home and at work. The dose of the medication will be monitored and the patient will be asked about any problems or side effects the patient may be experiencing .  Also, urine drug screens are performed at each visit, to insure the patient is taking the medication as prescribed. 

The goal of treatment is for the patient taper down, and eventually come off the buprenorphine completely. This process may take many months, or even years. In many instances, the dose may have to be adjusted several times before the patient is ready to stop the drug. However, what is most important, is that, while the patient is taking the buprenorphine,  he or she will have a sense of again “feeling normal” and to function at a level  at which he or she is physically and emotionally stable. 

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