Phillipa has been part of our practice for many years. She has as tough an Addiction Story as any I’ve heard. From getting a taste of hydrocodone as a teenager, she moved on to oxycodone, and finally to a fierce heroin habit which lasted for many years.

She burned through people, money, jobs and her once beautiful arms and other body parts that provided access to her bloodstream. She acquired Hepatitis C and OD’d twice. After selling her mother’s silverware to get drugs, she sold herself.

The story of Phillipa’s recovery is truly an Odyssey—and her recovery is an organic, ever-morphing entity. She lives with what the Buddhists call Beginner’s Mind; each day she wakes sober instead of sick is like opening an unexpected, undeserved gift.

Phillipa was put on Suboxone®, a formulation of buprenorphine when she went to a treatment program. She attributes the medication, in combination with her therapy and recovery meetings, as a pillar of her progress.

What is Suboxone®?

Suboxone is a medication approved for the treatment of Opioid Use Disorder that combines the opioid buprenorphine with the blocker naloxone. It does activate opioid receptors but produces a smaller response. It relieves drug cravings without the high or dangerous side effects caused by other opioids.

“At first I was just glad to have anything to keep me from being sick. Now I think of the Suboxone as one of the things that has provided me with real stability.

How has Suboxone Helped with Recovery?

“The things I value most in life haven’t changed, but it was like I couldn’t even think about them when I needed dope. All I could think about was ‘how do I not get sick? How can I find and pay for my drug?’"

Today Phillipa is giving herself the chance to be the kind of mother her 13-year-old daughter deserves. Her other relationships are better too, especially as she co-parents with Sally’s father.

“We mostly communicate without drama now,” she laughs.

Phillipa’s health has improved, which is a gift to herself of course, but she is also proud of modeling this behavior for her daughter, as well. She is swimming a few days a week at the Y and she quit smoking about a year after getting clean. She works full time in a job with benefits.

How Do You Reconcile Being on a Controlled Substance and Claiming Sobriety?

“I’ve definitely heard people—mostly the ‘old-timers’ say that being on Suboxone is like trading one drug for another, but I disagree. Being on Suboxone has really helped me get my life back in order. My sponsor whole-heartedly supports me in this decision.”

Will Phillipa stay on Suboxone indefinitely? It’s something she thinks about, but right now, she has no plans to change this part of her recovery program. The stability it provides is a godsend.

At the Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine, we specialize in helping our patients achieve recovery. This is a multi-faceted journey and can include counseling, medication, and support groups. Although historically our pharmaceutical approach to treatment has focused mostly on long-acting naltrexone, our understanding of the disease of Opioid Use Disorder has continued to evolve. We know this disease does not have a one-size-fits-all fix.

Our Richmond office recently began offering buprenorphine services under the banner of our affiliate, Applegate Recovery, which brings its expertise in treating Opioid Use Disorder with Suboxone and other buprenorphine products. The best choice for medically-assisted treatment is not always obvious. We will be happy to help you discern the differences in treatment options to end a dependence or addiction to opioids such as oxycodone, hydromorphone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, heroin, kratom, or methadone. Please give us a call at 877-773-3869. Our office treats motivated patients 365 days a year.

Joan R. Shepherd, FNP