Buprenorphine is an opioid agonist-antagonist, as it binds the opioid receptors very strongly and out-competes the pure opioids. This provides some safety if a person with opioid use disorder tries to use heroin, fentanyl, or prescription pain relievers while on buprenorphine (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2018). Also, buprenorphine does not have the same risk of respiratory depression that come with other drugs. People don’t seem to stop breathing when they misuse the buprenorphine, which is what kills almost all people who overdose (The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment, n.d.).
Suboxone is a formulation buprenorphine that contains a small amount of naloxone. Naloxone has no, or very little, activity when taken orally. However, if the patient tries to melt the suboxone and inject it to get high, the naloxone is active and prevents the user from feeling any rush, making it less likely to be used inappropriately. Buprenorphine has less abuse potential than methadone, but there have been cases of illicit use now that it is being used more frequently (The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment, n.d.).
Almost all addicts have done better when prescribed drugs are combined with psychological and social counseling. Narcotics Anonymous is one of the biggest support groups in the nation. It was inspired by the success of Alcoholics Anonymous. Anyone is able to join a group, meaning it is accessible to anyone who believes they need it (Addiction Center, 2018).
Narcotics Anonymous has two meeting styles, including discussion meetings or speaker meetings (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2018). Discussion meetings model a group discussion, while speaker meetings typically only have one speaker sharing. While sharing is encouraged, it is not enforced. In addition, addicts are encouraged to rely on a higher power to go through recovery with. A higher power can be anything the addict wants it to be; many people say theirs is God (Addiction Center, 2018).
Types of Non-Traditional Treatments
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy has proven effective in addicts, especially youth and adolescent addicts. Addiction affects more than just the body, and in adolescents especially, has major effects on emotional health (National Institute on Drug Abuse, n.d.).
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy focuses heavily on social development, as many adolescents who struggle with drug addiction also struggle with self confidence (Bennington-Castro, 2014). In addition to social development, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy teaches responsibility. Therapists often allow the client to take care of the basic needs of horses, including grooming and feeding. Taking care of something bigger than themself is often both calming and rewarding for clients (Filippides, 2016).
Because it is often difficult for adolescents to bond with a therapist, due to either distrust or defiance, the presence of the horse allows them to connect with the animal in the presence of the therapist (Filippides, 2016). According to the theories of Ivan Pavlov, a physiologist and psychologist widely known for his work in classical conditioning, when the good thoughts are associated with the horse, they will also be associated with the therapist (The Nobel Prize, n.d.). This allows for a connection with both the animal and the person.
While Equine Assisted Psychotherapy has been very successful in alleviating the social effects of opioid addiction, it does not address the physical needs of patients (Foundations Recovery Network, n.d.). Because of this, it is often paired with some type of medication (Filippides, 2016). According to an Eagala study in 2013, children/youth ages 10-18 benefited most among each age group from Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (Eagala, n.d.). This set of data implies that Equine Assisted Psychotherapy may not work well for younger children, but mostly middle and high school students.
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