Opiate Addiction: A New Medication

Total Running Time: 9:50 min.

In the 1960s, methadone was found to be successful in treating addiction to opiates like heroin. More recently, buprenorphine, which can be prescribed by physicians under the brand name Suboxone, has taken the treatment one step further. Amanda, 20, has been addicted to opioids (painkillers and heroin) for three years; her boyfriend Justin, 23, has been addicted six years. Together, they attend an orientation session at Acadia Hospital in Maine, learning about replacement therapy and Suboxone from Scott Farnum, Administrator of Substance Abuse Services. Explaining that the stimulation from opiates is "way more potent" than anything the brain produces, Farnum says that Suboxone - an opiate blocker - might replace methadone in certain cases. While Amanda and Justin both show improvement after six months, Justin says he may return to the more affordable methadone. Either way, Farnum explains that kicking the heroin habit without replacement drugs is virtually impossible: "After gross withdrawal, you feel like shit - that's why 90% of the people who don't use replacement therapy relapse."