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Difficult tasks aren’t necessarily complicated.

Beating opiate addiction isn't easy, but when you break it down into steps, it’s not really that complicated either.

Here’s an easy to follow guide to the recovery steps that increase your odds of success with methadone or Suboxone.

15 Steps to Success with Suboxone or Methadone

As recommended by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA).1

  1. Decide to stop using all illicit opiates.
  2. Contact an addiction treatment clinic or methadone clinic, or get referred to a doctor licensed to prescribe Suboxone.
  3. Get assessed and informed and decide if medication management makes sense for you, and if so, which medication fits best.
  4. Work with your health team to get titrated onto your medication. (This has to be done carefully – start on methadone too quickly and due to its long half life you could overdose. Start on Suboxone too quickly and due to its antagonist effects you could go into sudden complete opiate withdrawal.)
  5. Start counseling to learn coping skills and new behavioral strategies. Never rely on medication as the only leg to support recovery.
  6. Get medical and dental check-ups and initiate any treatment needed to restore physical health. Opiates can mask discomfort, so it’s easy to let small injuries or ailments grow into larger problems while high and somewhat anesthetized.
  7. Take a hard look at your use of alcohol and other drugs. Do you abuse other substances? Does your substance use hinder your recovery efforts? Many people find it impossible to maintain abstinence from one substance while using or abusing others.
  8. Work with your health team to find an optimal daily dosage of methadone or Suboxone. Lower is not always better – you want to find a dosage that eliminates withdrawal symptoms and cravings without intoxicating or stupefying.
  9. Learn about triggers and make a list of places, people and things that set you off. Start minimizing needless exposure to triggers and continue to work with a counselor/recovery group to learn effective ways to handle unavoidable triggers.
  10. Substitute unhealthy behaviors with healthier replacements. Instead of watching TV all evening, switch out a show or two for an evening walk or jog...instead of hanging out aimlessly before work each day, switch to attending recovery meetings to get your day started right…
  11. Make repairing damaged relationships a priority. Healthy relationships support your recovery.
  12. Build a steady ‘normal’ routine for your life. Focus on balance - building a routine with blocks of time for work/school, recovery specific activities, fun activities, family time, etc.
  13. Schedule regular appointments with your healthcare providers – over the mid to long-range you’ll want to check in every 1 to 3 months.
  14. Once past the tough initial period, avoid dangerous overconfidence by continuing with counseling and recovery support groups.
  15. Find purpose and joy in your daily life.

Research proves that medications increase your chances of maintaining recovery, but you can’t expect a pill alone to magically change your life around.

That’s why you need to combine medication with counseling, behavior change, support group attendance and a whole lot more to really have a fighting chance at building recovery that lasts.

You can change, but change takes effort!

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Page last updated 20/11/2015

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