Suboxone maintenance is one of the options that may be offered to people recovering from an alcohol or opiate substance use disorder. Suboxone is a medication that is both a partial opioid agonist-antagonist and an opioid antagonist. It works by interfering with the way the brain processes opioids, essentially canceling out the pleasurable effect of opiates on the brain. Opiate, or opioid, antagonists have been shown to reduce cravings and stave off relapse.
As with many other chronic, progressive diseases such as diabetes and asthma, relapse rates following treatment for alcohol or drug abuse are quite high. Many addiction treatment specialists endorse using medications like Suboxone to increase the chances for successful long-term treatment.1
However, it is not uncommon for some sober living communities to not offer Suboxone maintenance. The reasons vary, but some of the most common reasons cited include:
1. Psychological Dependency
Addiction is a complex illness that affects people physically and psychologically. People who suffer from addiction often feel that they simply cannot cope without using. This is a type of psychological dependence.
Some sober living facilities believe that using Suboxone maintenance and other types of medication-related treatments simply replaces one type of dependence with another. They believe that sober living with Suboxone discourages people from doing the work of developing the skills to stay sober.
2. Behavioral Aspects of Suboxone Maintenance
During Suboxone maintenance, people who receive the drug take it regularly. The medication comes in the form of a film, placed under the tongue once a day. It is a prescription drug and should only be provided by a certified medical professional.
Some sober living facilities feel that the idea of residents receiving regular doses of this medication can weaken the resolve of others within the facility who may be trying to build their recovery without using a maintenance program.
3. Sober Living Environments are substance-free
The primary purpose of sober living facilities is to give people the time they need to readjust to a regular schedule after completing treatment. For most residents, that means completely altering the routines they’ve known. Seeking, using and recovering from substance use had previously occupied many or most hours of the day, which is why many sober living communities ban all substances.
House Policies for Suboxone Maintenance
If you are in recovery and would like to know more about sober living with Suboxone, you can find out how the medication works by talking to your doctor or doing some research online. Once you’ve looked into it, you can decide whether it might benefit your recovery.2
If you are also thinking about entering a sober living community, you will need to check whether the community supports Suboxone maintenance programs.
Many sober living communities have a house policy that it is compulsory for residents to participate in random drug testing. This encourages accountability, ensuring that residents who are away from the facility do not use drugs or alcohol during that period—a policy that protects all residents. If you are on a Suboxone maintenance program and you have joined a community that does not support the use of medications like Suboxone, you may be asked to leave that community if the screening test reveals the presence of the drug. Ensure that the community you choose to join is compatible with your own recovery.