July 16, 2021 – She feels after five years she should be at the point of getting off Suboxone and being done with the daily sickness. Joehlin says she even feels pressure to get off the medicine from her family and her sponsor.

“Unless we really understand the true nature of the disease that’s where a lot of confusion comes,” Dr. Vin Shukla said.

Dr. Shukla is not Joehlin’s doctor but he is an addiction medicine specialist with OhioHealth.

He says the active ingredient in Suboxone is buprenorphine. It is a partial opioid that is a long-acting medicine that binds to the same receptors as when someone uses, except without the euphoric sensation. Also in the medicine is naloxone to help prevent the misuse of buprenorphine. When it comes to using this medicine, Dr. Shukla says each person is different.

“We have to tailor the treatment based on the severity of the disease,” Shukla said. “Medicine is simply a tool to help address the disease process.”

Dr. Shukla is also quick to point out that Suboxone is to addiction as medicine is to heart disease or insulin is to diabetes. He says Suboxone, essentially, is to allow an addict to lead a productive, healthy life while also bringing in other lifestyle changes like dieting or behavioral. Depending on the person, he says, medicine could be something you always take for that reason.

“You were being so successful in treatment – the recipe, the ingredients that you had in treatment…here’s the medicine, here’s the behavioral component…it was keeping your disease in check,” Dr. Shukla said. “You remove those ingredients [and] yes, the disease will flare up.”