Suboxone helps many opioid users to live normal lives. They take their dose in the privacy of their homes. The drug can be filled at any pharmacy that stocks it. It keeps opioid withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings at bay. Suboxone itself is an opioid. It’s addictive. However, it’s a viable, safe, and legal option to the illegal activity often associated with opioid drug use. It’s certainly way better than injecting heroin and other opioids.
Suboxone, like methadone, is controversial. Its use is not necessarily approved by NA or AA (although no 12-step programs have rules necessarily). If you’ve joined a 12-Step program, and you admit that you use Suboxone, other members will likely say that you’re not drug-free and not following the program as intended. You will probably find yourself under considerable pressure to stop the Suboxone.
If you’re in AA or NA and also on Suboxone, you may feel that you only three options:
- Stop attending the meetings
- Stop the Suboxone
- Keep your Suboxone use to yourself
Should you stop taking Suboxone for the sake of AA or NA? That depends. If you think the program has great value and will help you more than the drug, then maybe you should. If Suboxone is key to keeping you away from the opioid use lifestyle, then you may want to keep taking it. After all, there are many other groups you can join besides NA or AA. You can also just say nothing. You don’t have to reveal that you take Suboxone. The only true fact is that you should be in good communication with your doctor and follow his/her direction.
If you decide to stop taking the drug, know that it won’t be easy. Suboxone is a powerful opioid. It’s very long-acting. Once you have taken for a while, it will be very difficult to stop. Your drug cravings may return. You will face protracted withdrawal symptoms that can easily last six weeks and more. This is especially true for those taking more than 2 milligrams a day. However, even small doses of Suboxone will not be easy to stop. Once again, make sure to work closely with your physician when making these types of decisions.
If you decide to quit the drug, you must first speak to your prescriber. He or she is obligated to taper your dose and wean you off the drug if that’s what you want. The longer you have taken Suboxone, the slower your taper should be. It’s not a contest to see how fast you can do it. It’s not about suffering through painful withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor should reduce your dose in tiny increments over a sufficient amount of time. This will make it easier for you to stop the drug in the end, that is, if you want to.
12-Step Program’s Peculiar Obsession with Tobacco Use
NA and AA both tolerate the use of nicotine. They even endorse it. Great clouds of cigarette smoke are seen rising up after these meetings as members gather outside for a smoke. Nicotine is a psychoactive drug just like any other. Cigarette smoking kills many Americans every single day. It’s one of the most dangerous and destructive habits ever known. Worse, it doesn’t just affect the smoker. Second-hand smoke can kill, too. Smoking is a drug habit. There’s no question of that. The 12-step program, which advocates a drug-free life, should not make this exception for smokers. It’s ridiculous. It’s also hypocritical and illogical. Yet NA and AA see Suboxone use as unacceptable and different from smoking. It makes no sense at all.
Why do NA and AA advocate tobacco? It’s a deadly habit. It’s an addiction. It causes heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer, just to name a few. It’s expensive. It pollutes the air. Cigarette smoke contains some 5000 potentially cancer-causing compounds.
While less serious, AA and NA always have large pots of coffee at meetings. Caffeine is also a stimulant. It’s a psychoactive drug. A couple of cups of coffee a day probably does little harm. Coffee actually contains valuable antioxidants that help the body fight off harmful toxins. But that’s not the point here. If AA and NA are going to approve the use of tobacco and caffeine, then they can’t vilify Suboxone. They can’t have it both ways. It goes against common sense and it’s not fair.
By allowing their members to smoke, NA and AA are saying that smoking is an acceptable drug habit. It’s ludicrous. There’s nothing good about smoking. On the other hand, Suboxone does a lot of good for many opioid users. Suboxone allows people to work and attend to family responsibilities without the constant need to search out their drug of choice. It has eliminated the risk of overdose and serious health problems for people who used to inject heroin. It has stopped people from heading straight into financial ruin from all the money they were once spending on drugs.
Suboxone is not the enemy. If you’re taking Suboxone, attending NA and AA meetings and feeling pressured within yourself to stop the drug, think again. The decision to use Suboxone is a personal one that should not be influenced by the opinions of outside sources. You should not feel guilty. You are doing nothing wrong. By being nonsensical and judgemental, it’s the program and its members who are wrong. You can still attend NA and AA and take Suboxone. It’s your choice. It’s also your choice if you want to share that information or not. The main important thing to be sure of is to cooperate with your doctor regarding your decision.
Better yet, find another support group. There are many alternatives:
- SMART: Self-Management and Recovery Training
- Secular Organizations for Sobriety
- LifeRing Secular Recovery
- Women for Sobriety
- Moderation Management
- Celebrate Recovery (Spiritual)
If you want to stop Suboxone and continue with AA and NA, then ask your doctor for help. But don’t let the 12-Step program push you into it. If you stop the Suboxone, will you relapse into your old drug use? Think about it.
If you want help with any substance abuse problem, we are here to help. Just call us at any time. A trained counselor will be able to point you in the right direction for you. We look forward to speaking with you.