Emilio Rodriguez’s battle with his heroin and morphine addiction began at just 16 years old.
“Broken relationships with my family and being fired multiple times,” exclaimed the SGL Recovery cabin director and former addict.
After overdosing four times, Rodriguez turned to buprenorphine, commonly known as Suboxone.
“The first time suboxone was not there for longer than a 48-hour period and I couldn’t get a doctor to write me another prescription, or get a refill on it, I automatically went back to heroine and opioids,” Rodriguez exclaimed.
The medication assisted addiction treatment is a controlled substance designed for physicians to prescribe. Dr. Andrew Daigle, with S2L Recovery in Cannon County, described Suboxone as very effective, very powerful, and potentially harmful medication.
“Suboxone is not a quick fix for addiction,” explained Dr. Daigle.
That’s a statement S2L Recovery Pastor Adam Comer can attest to personally.
“I’ve struggled with addiction for 15 years,” Pastor Comer said.
Now that he’s nearly 10 years clean and serving in resident addiction recovery, he’s sharing his side of Suboxone setbacks.
“Guys come to this program every year trying to get off the drug that they were given to get off the drugs,” Comer stated.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health’s 2020 buprenorphine report, more than one-third of patients on Suboxone in 2019 filled prescriptions for more than a nine months’ supply.
“It’s an opioid and your body becomes habituated to an opioid,” Dr. Daigle said. “To get off that opioid is a longer withdrawal.”
Despite 2015 addiction treatment legislation to slash high prescribing numbers and curb abuse, the fear of causing long-term users remains.
“It’s beneficial for a season, right?” asked Rodriguez. “That season isn’t two months, or three months, or a year long.”
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