Great post Kellibear. I agree with all of what you said. It really breaks my heart how many people I know who are in absolute agony, trying to get off this drug. A week or two of withdrawal, which is what happens when people quit drugs like oxys or heroin - is tolerable. Horribly unpleasant, but tolerable.
With sub, the MONTHS of withdrawals a maintenance person will suffer - even with the best planned taper...it's enough to break a person's spirit.
I read an article in a peer reviewed medical journal, from before sub was considered for addiction 'treatment', in which they were studying it for pain management, and comparing it to other opiates.
They found that 2 mg of sub is closely equivalent to 30 mg of methadone. For those who don't know 30 mg of methadone is quite a bit - and NO doctor would EVER tell a maintenance patient to quit cold turkey from 30 mg of methadone. So I am dumbfounded to hear the many doctors say people on sub maintenance can simply quit at 2 to 4 mg with no problems!! That's like telling someone they can painlessly quit 30 to 60 mg of methadone with no problems!!! Insanity!
So I feel profoundly bad for the many people who follow their doctor's orders, and jump off at 2 to 4 mg! I've heard of several people visiting ER's, or repeatedly visiting their doctor and ordering hosts of tests. Because they don't realize they're suffering crushing withdrawals (because their sub doc never informed them), and they think they must have some serious disease, or are losing their mind!
The usage protocols for sub tend to be vastly different in the EU, from those in the US. And, in general, EU health care policy tends to be more progressive, more protective of the patient, and FAR less corrupt, than in the US. Like you mentioned Kelli, Sub is a great detox tool, and with just three or four days use, can ease someone off a nasty, say, heroin habit.
But due to the serious health risks associated with long term sub use, it should NEVER be used as a maintenance drug. I'm acquainted with a very bright European toxicologist - who's on the cutting edge of addiction research there, and he is APPALLED at the way sub is prescribed in the US. The insane doses, for unconscionable lengths of time.
Some of the VERY common side effects of long term sub use: anhedonia, erectile disfunction / impotence in men related to negligible testosterone levels, amenorrhea in women, and loss of libido for both, social isolation, loss of motivation, depression, anxiety and irritability. All directly related to sub.
When a powerful, long acting opiate like sub is taken on a long-term basis, the brain makes adaptations that are quite profound and difficult to reverse. It's own natural 'opiate' system - which is very complex and subtle chemically, and is vital to human behavior and our motivation and reward systems - virtually shuts down. The natural reward system is crucial to the survival of humans as a species, and is a delicate, supremely important balanced system. It is what makes us find things like eating and having sex pleasurable, and reinforces the desire to do such things again.
So when that entire endogenous opiate system is canceled out, and replaced by Sub, a VERY strong opiate, and in HUGE volumes, profound changes in the brain begin to occur. And, at this point, there is not a lot of literature out there about this kind of high-dose, long term use. US patients are literally Reckitt guinea pigs. Lining the exec's pockets.
But the story I've seen countless times is unvaryingly this: someone is put on Sub - and they feel FANTASTIC!! Because they are, in fact, high as a kite. So, of course their depression and anxiety are lifted. They have amazing amounts of energy they've never had before. Often, their life is in shambles because of their drug of choice. So, while in superman mode on sub, they are often able to put in extra hours at work, fix their house, get new friends. Actually, funnily enough - a lot of engagements occur in this Sub 'honeymoon' period.
But then, unvaryingly, as the brain makes it's adjustments, the honeymoon comes to a sad end. Depression comes on, along with fatigue. The person starts to realize they have no motivation to do anything any more. They begin to isolate, even from family. Even from their own children! The sub is no longer making them feel 'well', but they are now deeply addicted - and cannot quit without months to years of suffering through withdrawals and the long after-effects.
And, sadly, most of these people don't understand what's happening and are told it's THEIR fault! When, in fact, it is simply a biological reaction to long term Sub use.
Every single person I've ever encountered who sings the praises of Sub maintenance either:
1) Is in their first few months/years of use - in the 'honeymoon' stage; or
2) Is a sub doctor, financially benefiting from having their entire patient list composed of people they've gotten hooked on one of the most powerful opiates in existence - who can never 'fire' them, for fear of suffering one of the worst detoxes known to man.
It is a true tragedy. And a travesty of the US medical system. I believe the tenet of 'First do no harm,' is supposed to be number one with US doctors. Unfortunately, doctors who prescribe this drug incorrectly and recklessly are harming thousands. And the numbers are still rising...
It's heartbreaking. And I pray for those out there - who don't understand what's happening to them, and are told it's their fault, or that it's 'all in their head.'
Please, anyone considering this drug - NEVER use it for more than a quick taper. If you get hooked, you'll be in the struggle of your life. Read everything you can online. Research, research! And take a great pause before signing yourself or a loved one up for this hell.
Why am I so mad? Because simple greed is responsible for ruining lives. Sub is generally NOT used this way in Europe people! Ask yourself why. Based on the above, it's not hard to understand.