Behavioral Therapy for Suboxone Addiction

For many addicts, quitting seems like a hopeless endeavor.  The lure of the drug, coupled with the never-ending cycle of using, getting high, wanting to quit, craving and giving in to use again can be absolutely maddening.  For some hooked on narcotics like heroin or morphine, medical treatment options like methadone or Suboxone offer help to end the cycle.


Suboxone, also known as buprenorphine, is an opioid agonist.  It is prescribed for addicts attempting to quit using powerful opiates like heroin or morphine.  More recently approved in 2002 by the FDA, the drug can be prescribed in doctor’s offices and health clinics, unlike its predecessor, methadone, which must be prescribed in a formal methadone clinic.

How Suboxone Works

For those struggling to kick opiate addiction, buprenorphine may be an excellent option.  The drug triggers mµ receptors in the brain, in the same manner as heroin or morphine.  However, the degree of euphoria is lessened and there is a “ceiling” to the effects of the drug.  This means there is much less risk of overdose.

Addiction Risks

Behavioral Therapy

Therapy helps you establish healthy exercise routines.

With any drug that acts upon the pain receptors in the brain, there is a significant risk of addiction.  For addicts seeking recovery, Suboxone is merely a step in the right direction.  Detox treatment and medical supervision is necessary to stop using buprenorphine.

History of Behavioral Therapy

Ivan Pavlov became famous for his work and discovery of conditioned responses in dogs.  In short, he learned that dogs would salivate when offered food.  If he paired the food offering with the ringing of a bell, dogs would continue to salivate even in absence of the food.  This work led other researchers to study behavior and conditioned responses.

An Addict’s Conditioned Responses

The nature of addiction leads to the same type of responses that Pavlov’s dogs experienced.  When an addict pairs opiate use with escape from an unpleasant situation, the brain learns to cope with the negative occurrences of life by desiring more opiates.  The same is true for celebrations.  If an addict celebrates in a gathering of friends by getting high, the brain learns to equate positive experiences with opiate use, as well.

Getting Clean

Behavioral therapy offered in combination with Suboxone therapy sustains greater recovery rates for opiate addicts.  Addicts know loneliness and isolation like few others.  Building positive human connections and replacing destructive habits with healthy behaviors requires small mental shifts made easier with behavioral therapy.

Bring the Body

In recovery circles the saying, “Bring the body and the mind will follow,” is often bantered about.  There is much truth to this simple concept.  Changing an addicts behavior is as important as treating the physical addiction symptoms.  Helping opiate dependent persons to change facets of their behavior can help prevent future relapse.

Conditioning for Recovery

Treatment programs usually offer a multi-faceted approach to recovery from drug addiction.  Addicts must begin the long journey of learning about themselves and changing their responses that lead to chemical use.  Counselors usually help addicts:

  • Look for triggers that lead to opiate use
  • Develop plans for coping with cravings
  • Set up systems of support for others attempting recovery
  • Avoid high risk environments
  • Establish healthy physical exercise routines
  • Explore emotional regulation techniques

Tapering Down

For those looking to kick an opiate addiction, the outlook can be bleak.  There is a nation-wide epidemic leaving medical professionals grasping for solutions to help those with opiate addiction.  Prescribing Suboxone is one safe and simple way addicts can stop using heroin.  While Suboxone users experience some of the same physical sensations they do with heroin use, they are better able to stop using the more dangerous substances like heroin.  Further, they are able to taper dosages to eventually stop using all opiates.

Hopeful Horizons

The good news is that Suboxone therapy, coupled with behavioral therapy has good results for people looking for a way of the hopelessness of addiction.  In one study, patients using Suboxone were less likely to relapse than those using methadone therapy.  Clearly, breaking the binding chains of opiate addiction is an arduous process, but the freedom is well worth the journey.

Group Therapy May Be an Important Component of Your Suboxone Rehabilitation Program


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Johnson, R., Jaffe, J. & Fudala, P. (1992). A controlled trial of buprenorphine treatment for opioid dependence. JAMA. 267(20). 2750-2755. Retrieved from:

Jones, H. (2004). Practical considerations for the clinical use of buprenorphine. Addiction Science & Clinical Practice. 2(2). 4-20. Retrieved from:

PBS Online (1998). Ivan Pavlov. Retrieved from:

SAMHSA (2016). Buprenorphine. Retrieved from:

Whelan, P. & Remski, K. (2012). Buprenorphine versus methadone treatment: A review of evidence in both developed and developing worlds. Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practices. 3(1). 45-50. Retrieved from:

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