Maintenance or Taper: What works best when quitting heroin?

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Heroin use is increasing. Maintenance or Taper are treatment methods to help you quit.

This deadly and highly addicting drug is destroying lives. Yet, there is hope. Medical treatment can help you to quit heroin. The question is, maintenance or taper?

Detox programs use Subutex

Subutex is a brand name for buprenorphine. This is a medication approved for use in helping opioid dependent patients. It is highly effective in making it possible to transition off of heroin with only a brief period of withdrawal sickness.

Outpatient programs use Suboxone

Suboxone is a similar brand to subutex. In addition to buprenorphine, it contains nalaxone, a drug to stop you from injecting Suboxone like heroin.  Suboxone and Subutex can be abused if injected into a vein like heroin.  Suboxone will make you sick if you try to inject it.

Is it better to taper off quickly or stay on maintenance?

A rapid taper means that a plan made to quickly reduce Subutex each day.  Within a period of a week or two, the patient is finished and stops taking Subutex.  Maintenance can be done with Suboxone or Subutex, but Suboxone is more commonly used.  Maintenance simply means that you remain on a stable dose of Suboxone for a long period of time.  This could be months to years.  So, for some people, tapering is best.  For others, maintenance is better.

How do you know which method is best for you?

Maintenance tends to be the safer option in general. But, the problem is that you may feel that you are not clean from drugs. There is a lot of pressure from the drug recovery community. If you go through rapid detox, get clean and stay clean, that’s great. You don’t have to worry about taking daily Suboxone. So, you will be considered clean in NA meetings and sober homes.  If you find that you relapse frequently after detox, you should consider maintenance. The ultimate goal is to stay clean and stay alive. Therefore, the opinions of your clean and sober peers have little meaning when your life is on the line.

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