Despite its somewhat1 waning popularity in the last several years, Suboxone remains a popular tool in the kit prescribing physicians use for the treatment of opioid addiction. As a result, methadone has seen a resurgence and in many cases is replacing Suboxone as the preferred treatment for opioid replacement therapy. Nevertheless, Suboxone persists as one of the primary opioid replacement therapies available to patients that qualify.
In this article, we will discuss Suboxone, Ibogaine, and outline important understandings that patients need to know about when preparing themselves to stop taking Suboxone with Ibogaine. We will model our discussion around a phenomenal patient that visited our ibogaine clinic back in late 2019. His results thus far have been astounding, and we think that his story is best suited for illustrating the situation Suboxone patients find themselves in.
John Wants To Stop Suboxone
In July 2019, we were contacted by a patient that we will call John (for the purposes of this article) who had been on Suboxone for roughly ten years. His usage of Suboxone had varied over the years; at certain points, he was on the lower end of the dosing spectrum at 8 mg, and at other times he was at the higher end of the spectrum at 24 mg. When he spoke with us over the phone for the first time in July 2019 he was taking four doses of 4 mg spread out evenly over a day totaling 16 mg per day2.
His prescribing doctor had all but resigned John to being on Suboxone for the rest of his life. However, John was not content with such a decision, because, as the patient remarked, it felt like, “living with a wet blanket on top of me at all times of the day.3”
He described this feeling as being “worse than depression because at least with depression it feels like it’s coming from the inside whereas I had to watch and then literally ingest my four times daily dose of depression day after day.4” John’s goal was to detox from Suboxone. Still, he was fully aware that detoxing from Suboxone is far more complicated and fraught then detoxing from short-acting opioids like oxycontin or morphine.
Our phone conversation with John culminated in advice and advice only. We are not able to prescribe medication to patients that we do not meet with personally nor could we prescribe medication to patients located in the United States considering that our physicians are licensed to operate in Mexico. Our advice was that he should try to find a cooperating physician who would help him begin a taper off of suboxone before he arrived at our ibogaine clinic.
Finding A Physician
John learned on our phone call that if he was interested in pursuing ibogaine treatment that his best bet would be to find a physician willing to switch him to short acting opiates for a brief period of time before his visit to BAJA IBOGAINE. It took John several months of searching, and significant sums of money to find a doctor stateside that was willing to prepare him for ibogaine treatment. His primary care doctor was, as John reports, “totally unwilling to even entertain the notion of [me] going to do ibogaine or even discussing [my] coming off of Suboxone.” Something that we can unfortunately confirm is quite common.
Eventually, John did find a cooperating physician who was familiar with ibogaine and agreed to help John switch to short acting opiates in the weeks running up to his coming to see us in Rosarito, Mexico. This kind of patient / physician collaboration is an example of harm reduction if ever there were one, but don’t get us started on that today.
John was very fortunate when he was able to find a physician in his hometown of Los Angeles willing to participate and indeed administer to John a course that would best set him up for success.
What follows are the dosing instructions given to John by his doctor in the United States:
Preparing To Use Ibogaine to Stop Suboxone
Because he was taking 16 mg of Suboxone daily, his physician recommended that he begin by taking 180 mg of morphine daily. His physician recommended that he begin his taper by following the protocol below for anywhere between 3 to 5 days.
For the first step down John was instructed to reduce his overall daily morphine intake to 150 mg daily.
After another 3 to 5 days his physician suggested that the dosing go down to 120 mg daily.
The idea here is that it is imperative that a patient not wake up in the throes of withdrawal because this often leads patients to then increase their morning dose to stop feeling the symptoms of withdrawal.
After another 3 to 5 days, his physician suggested that the dosing go down to 90 mg daily.
His physician then told him that if he wished to, he could reduce down to 60 mg daily, however his physician also warned him that 60 mg of morphine daily would have him rather close to the edges of withdrawal and so suggested that he may be more comfortable stopping at 90 mg daily, especially if he was going to continue going to work for a few weeks before coming to see us in Baja California.
The Consequences Of Suboxone
Many opioid addicts who turn to opioid replacement therapies like Suboxone are disturbed to find out (many years after they begin treatment) that these treatments take a very significant toll on the human body.
For instance, Suboxone is known to be very hard on the human body’s kidneys5, gastrointestinal tract6, and liver7. Furthermore, the withdrawals that come from a person ceasing Suboxone therapy are, by most accounts, significantly worse than the withdrawals from short-acting opiates (e.g. moprhine, oxycontin, percocet). Finally, The psychological effects in the aftermath of Suboxone therapy are varied and oftentimes rather sinister. Many of our patients report feelings of depression and even of suicidality that set in hard when they have tried to taper Suboxone without the assistance of ibogaine therapy.
In other cases, Suboxone can induce significant “brain fog.” The truth is that, coming off of Suboxone can, in many ways, be far worse than coming off of short-acting opiates and it is for this reason, that ibogaine is often of particular interest to Suboxone patients. No one should feel locked into the use of any medication, particularly these kinds, ibogaine offers a way to get off of Suboxone that no other treatment in the world can.
Ibogaine For Suboxone Treatment
But as you can see, the protocol to properly prepare a Suboxone patient for ibogaine treatment is much more involved then it is for those who come to do ibogaine simply using short-acting opiates. There is a ton of prep work that must be done by the patient in consultation with a consenting physician. The process of finding a physician who is both open-minded about ibogaine and willing to prescribe a course of short-acting opiates is extremely difficult, but as John’s experience shows, it is not impossible.
If you are struggling with dependence to Suboxone, we at BAJA IBOGAINE with our depth of experience and unmatched knowledge about this amazing substance can help you get to where you need to be. We can help you if you are trying to get yourself off of Suboxone.