If I’m On A Suboxone Or Methadone Program, Am I Clean?


Q. Is being prescribed methadone or suboxone considered being clean, even though they are addictive, abusable substances?

You’ll get different answers to this question from different people.  Generally the division lies between those who are on maintenance drugs and those who are not.  Both sides of the discussion have their valid points.  However, I believe you answered your own question when you used the expression “addictive, abusable substances.”

The consensus among most professionals and recovering addicts is that “clean”, when used in the context of recovery, means drug-free.  Having all mood-altering substances out of our systems is necessary before the changes that addiction creates in our brains can be repaired.  As long as drugs that modify the reward system (which includes all recreational drugs) are in our bodies, repair and normalization cannot begin.  When we are on Suboxone or methadone maintenance, we are still addicted¹, and our brains are essentially in the same condition as when we were actively using other opioid drugs.  It would seem to be pushing things to call us clean.

That is not to say that there are no benefits to drug maintenance programs.  To the extent that they allow people to cease other drug use and begin to take care of themselves and fulfill their responsibilities, they have some validity.  The problem is that the addiction remains in full force, and relapse — whether to other drugs or simply recreational doses of the maintenance drugs — is only a hair’s breadth away.  Adherence to maintenance programs rests squarely on our willingness to continue to follow them.  That is an extremely dangerous place for an addict to be.

Here at Sunrise, we believe that the proper uses of these drugs are as short-term substitutes for the drugs being abused, with a relatively rapid taper to a completely drug-free condition.  If we wanted, we could easily become licensed to provide maintenance services.  However, we do not believe that is in the best interest of our patients, their families, and the other people in their lives.
¹If you don’t think we remain addicted on maintenance doses of opioid substitutes, just try quitting.  Both Suboxone (when used for long periods) and methadone have withdrawal syndromes that are worse than the drugs for which they’re being substituted.  Truth.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Being dependent on a drug and being addicted are different, if your on a prescription drug from a dr and taking it as prescribed and it isn’t negatively impacting your life then as far as I’m concerned that’s being clean .people take mind altering drugs everyday caffeine ,nicotine,sugar are they clean and people are dependent on drugs as well like a diabetic needs insulin and people with high blood pressure need blood pressure meds ,depression I could go on but you get the point .to many people think there shit don’t stink and they can judge others when they don’t know anything about opiate addiction and how to treat it .unfortunately most people think someone got addicted to opiates because of a moral issue ,they are weak or lazy when the fact is a dr gave them there first fix and got them hooked .i say who cares what people think do what’s best for you and don’t Judge and educate yourself before you make comments on what clean is or isn’t because most people in this country is on some form of medication that they will get sick or go into withdrawals from if they stop

  2. Anonymous your wrong..on so many levels its ridiculous.. educate yourself and learn the difference between medications that are needed for daily living and medications that are wanted.. you can live life with drug replacement.. some addicts choose not to.. sickness symptom.. learn the difference

  3. The problem I have with suboxone is that it is still a narcotic and still illegal without a prescription. That’s not the case for the meds for diabetes etc.. It’s still keeping you having a dependancy to a narcotic.

  4. To the anonymous poster, you are heavily still an active addict with that mentality. The fact that you gave excuses to say that you can be clean and there is a difference when you are taking a dr. Prescribed regimented dose of
    Your daily meds to be clean, yet the one who apparently got you addicted was the doctor?? That makes NO SENSE unless you are an addict making excuses to make the “judgement” worse…the judgements were in place before the addictions, first and foremost. Everyone knows the public and social backlash that comes with addiction and opiates in general, but comparing a person with a drug addiction to someone who has diabetes is touchy because you can give yourself diabetes from living an unhealthy lifestyle OR you can be predisposes to it by DNA, same as addiction….the fact is, once that health condition is underway,
    Insulin is needed for the body to function properly from the damages caused by by a potentially self induced lifestyle. Aside from alcohol, as an addict you will never NEED the constant use of a narcotic unless your brain is permanently placed there, which happens under permanent use of maintainence drugs when not tapered off properly until all use is done. Type 1 diabetes doesn’t work the same way type 2 does. Type 2 can possibly be maintained by a difference in lifestyle and regiment and self discipline- JUST LIKE ALOT OF ADDICTIONS. If you understand the predisposition to the inevitable ramification, or even recognized it as a daily possibility and guarantee rather than a worst case scenario, maybe you’d be able to pull your head out of your ass and stop making excuses. Change of environment and entire family dynamic MUST happen if you expect change to happen.

  5. I hate to say this but I am afraid if dying while still on Suboxone; I’m 63. I’m in AA and sober but went back out and used herion. I kicked cold turkey myself then it was suggested I go on Sub. Wish I never had. Tapering now: 10mg a day,8am,2pm. But I chose to use and if I die before I get clean I think God will see it that way. I got myself into this position. Sorry if any are offended but what do AA and NA say about self will?

  6. Two sides to every story some addict’s need longer maintenance. The thing with Suboxone above methadone is it have a ceiling effect meaning you can’t get high off of medication once you reach a certain point any other drug you can keep on going. Suboxone is s short term fix but if the addict is succeeding moving forward I don’t see no reason why they couldn’t take it for the rest of their life. I mean if you can do with out Suboxone that’s even better. I believe Suboxone is a better way it’s abuse is limited to anything else.
    One day at a time and don’t live by what others think live to help one another.

  7. Jim Heckel says:

    Subs ain’t clean, sorry. That still maintains the addiction. Ever wonder why subs are called ‘government dope’? That’s why. The only legit use for subs is to have a rapid taper down to zero for someone whose health is too badly compromised for cold turkey quitting – and even then, there’s gonna be some discomfort.

    Meds like Seroquel, Prozac, or other psych meds aren’t mind altering; they are mind restoring. The reason why this is so is that psych meds take an already malfunctioning mind (chemical imbalance or whatever it is) and restore normal functioning. This is the opposite of dope, which takes a normally functioning mind and alters it to produce a chemical high.

    Make no mistake, Big Pharma is not our friend. Their executives and lawyers can be every bit as evil as Big Tobacco when enough money is on the table. It’s one thing to take meds to treat problems that honestly cannot be solved using a nondrug approach. It’s one thing to use subs as a rapid taper for those whose health is too badly compromised for cold turkey withdrawal. It’s quite another thing to use subs to avoid the pain of withdrawal.

    I know this because I have been there. Cold turkey hurts like hell, but it’s really the only way. I took my last fix on November 11, 2016, at 3:30 AM USA Eastern Time and have been abstinent ever since.

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