Medications for Opioid Dependence—Does it Work to Treat Meds with Meds?

red and blue pill

As the opioid epidemic has raged across the country and caused almost unlimited problems, the U.S. has had to work fast to come up with solutions. With growing pressure levied at drug companies for the harmful opioids they make growing more severe each year, one “solution” has been to simply formulate “anti-addiction” drugs, i.e. drugs that people who are addicted to other drugs can take to then not be addicted to the original drugs they were on. Confusing? Yes. Workable in the long run? Probably not.

Is an Individual Truly Clean if They Have to Take Pills Every Day?

The concept of “opioid antagonists and agonists” as they are called depending on the exact drug is something that innovated by the very drug companies that make opioid pain relievers. This “solution” was supposed to help addicts to avail themselves of an affordable and plentiful medication that could counteract the effects of opiate drugs. To address withdrawal symptoms and pain problems, opioid antagonists would have pain-relieving properties. What they didn’t tell us was that these drugs would also be addictive.

This is the epitome of legalized addiction, where a person is addicted to a drug that they are legitimately prescribed. Anti-opiate drugs allow Big Pharma to net billions of dollars every year on the backs of beleaguered addicts who cannot break free from the vicious cycle of addiction. Opioid antagonist and agonist drugs are not a real solution because they never actually help an addict overcome addiction and experience a life of true sobriety and drug-free living.

Suboxone (Buprenorphine)


Suboxone is one of the most common drugs used to “treat” addiction. Suboxone is a “partial opioid agonist” in that it provides some opioid reaction in the brain without creating a full opioid experience. Suboxone also provides pain relief. It suppresses withdrawal symptoms and reduces cravings for opiates, but people can still get addicted to suboxone. Suboxone is used as a maintenance drug, meaning patients are convinced that they “must take it” in order to remain abstinent from other opiate drugs.



Methadone may be the most vicious pharmaceutical drug of them all. Methadone is an opioid itself, it provides pain relief, and it can create a euphoric “high” sensation when an individual takes too much of it. Methadone changes the way one’s brain and nervous system react to pain and opiate chemicals. Methadone is very similar to other opiate drugs, yet the effects are far slower in methadone than in other opiates, which is why the pharmaceutical companies that make methadone tout it as being a “non-addictive” solution to maintenance from opiate addiction. Methadone will block a high from other opiates like heroin, codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, etc. However, methadone is highly addictive biologically and psychologically. It is extremely difficult to come off of once one is on it.

The Solution is Treatment

The ideal approach would be that those who are addicted would just get treatment at a qualified rehabilitation center and move forward from there. The problem with medication-assisted therapy is that it does not get to the real problem. Taking a medication to reduce the effects of another drug is just using one problem to cover up another problem and so on. One never gets down to the original problem in the first place!

Rehabilitation at an inpatient addiction treatment center does get down to the real problem. Rehabilitation is the ideal solution because it actually is a solution, not just a band-aid, quick fix that almost always backfires in the long run.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.