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Getting into a methadone or Suboxone treatment program and off the abuse of opiates is a monumental step to better health and a better life, but medication alone is rarely enough! Those that give themselves the best chances of a lifetime of recovery take the time of stability that medication offers and use it to take back control of their lifestyle, their finances, their relationships and social support network and many other things. Read on to find out what must be done during maintenance treatment before you can begin thinking about tapering off your medication.

Although some people may choose to use Suboxone or methadone indefinitely as a form of lifetime maintenance treatment, most people will eventually decide to discontinue their use of these medications; and when they do, they once again face an elevated risk of relapse back to opiate abuse.

In general, longer periods of methadone and Suboxone treatment are associated with better eventual outcomes, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends that 1 year be considered a minimum period for the use of methadone treatment.

Once off methadone or Suboxone, you will likely once again experience increased drug cravings. You need to be prepared for this.

A sufficient period of Suboxone or methadone treatment lets you get your life back on track without having to worry about drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms while doing so. Over time, once you have built your strength and social support networks up, you are in a much better position to resist temptation and are more likely going to be able to stay addiction free, even without medication assistance.

Although you may not feel like you need counseling and other forms of addiction treatment while on Suboxone or methadone, this treatment assistance can prove invaluable as you work towards stability and emotional health in your daily life – putting you in a far stronger position for an eventual attempt towards ending your use of Suboxone or methadone.

Getting Ready to End Suboxone Therapy

What You Need to Accomplish While on Methadone or Suboxone before You End Treatment

Addiction is considered a bio-psycho-social disease – one that intertwines through all areas of our lives. Because of this, real weakness in any facet of life leaves us more vulnerable to relapse.

For best chances of remaining in recovery after ending treatment with Suboxone or methadone, we need to have used out time in treatment to1:

  • Restore physical health – A lot of people come out of a period of lengthy opiate addiction in less than ideal physical health. It is vital that the time on Suboxone or methadone be used to restore overall health and wellness and to receive appropriate treatment for any lingering conditions. Health workers in most methadone clinics will provide liaisons to needed health care and Suboxone prescribing doctors should provide referrals as needed.
  • Restore emotional health – Because addiction and mental health disorders so often co-occur, many people requiring methadone or Suboxone treatment will also need treatment for conditions like depression or anxiety. Left untreated, these disorders greatly increase the odds of post medication use relapse.
  • Overcome other addictions – Many people who initiate treatment with Suboxone or methadone have co-occurring addictions to other substances, such as cocaine or alcohol. A person who ends treatment with methadone or Suboxone while still abusing any other substances is at high risk for relapse back to opiate use.
  • Repair family and other relationships damaged during the time of opiate abuse – Having a strong sober social support network can make or break a long term attempt at recovery. Unfortunately, we too often damage these relationships through the actions of addiction. Repairing important relationships takes time and effort, but it is an important aspect of the recovery process.
  • Deal with any legal consequences of drug use – Ideally a person stays on methadone or Suboxone while they navigate the criminal justice system (if needed) while dealing with the consequences of actions of addiction.
  • Attain financial and housing stability – A person that does not have a safe, secure and stable place to live or who lacks minimum financial stability is not a good candidate for methadone or Suboxone tapering.
  • Find healthy ways to spend your free time – boredom or ‘dangerous’ leisure time activities are threats to recovery. You should not consider ending your treatment with methadone or Suboxone until you have adopted new healthy ways to fill you free time – adopting activities that do not increase temptation.

Suboxone or Methadone Treatment Takes Time

It is no small thing to remake your life so completely. To restore physical and emotional health takes time. To find a stable job and a good place to live doesn’t happen over night and to make right with family and friends what went wrong during a period of addiction can take longest of all.

It takes time and it takes effort and you need to give yourself enough time on methadone or Suboxone to accomplish what needs doing before you begin your tapering down – there is no right or set amount of time for maintenance treatment…only a right for you duration.

Take the time you need and find true stability before ending your treatment on methadone or Suboxone.

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Page last updated Nov 20, 2015

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