Through Google, I came upon this forum. Specifically a thread about suboxone used as a last resort for treatment-resistant depression. Suboxone is usually prescribed for opiate dependence...as a maintenance therapy...but there have been a few cases where it was prescribed for depression.
I recently was prescribed suboxone and found it to be life changing. When I read the thread on this forum I was motivated to post myself. Of course, being an opioid, there is controversy and legal muddy water. Suboxone may be controversial as a depression treatment, but it IS used as such in some cases, and should at least be discussed openly. I wanted to start my own thread to get a good discussion going.
I was prompted to post after reading a poster who adamantly defended suboxone's use as an anti-depressant. His post was followed by some agreement and some strong disagreement. Both responses make sense...this isn't a simple issue. I simply want to give my take on it all for anyone who might find it helpful. Knowledge is power, right? Below is a snippet of the post that defended suboxone's use as an anti-depressant, followed by my own post. I look forward to discussing this further on this excellent forum!
Originally Posted by taco1979
Okay, where do I start.....EVERY ANTIDEPRESSANT I HAVE TAKEN IS HABIT FORMING.
If this drug works for you, IT MEANS YOUR BODY NEEDS IT!
Just like a diabetic.
That's okay! It's better than the alternative.....living a life of complete misery...trying antidepressant after antidepressant....suffering with the side effects AND WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS....
until you get fed up and kill yourself.
Yes, buprenorphine should only be a last resort for those with Refractory Depression.
I registered on this forum specifically to post in this thread. I'll try to make this brief(yeah right...I cannot do that!), but I hope my post will be read by people in the future and will help those who need it. FYI: I'm a 28 year old white male in otherwise good health. I'm a bit of an introvert and tend to lose myself in my creative pursuits(art, music, writing) more than anything else. That's me in a teeny little nutshell.
So, to cut to the chase, I've been depressed for some time now. Many years. Infact, the more I think about it, this has been something I've had to deal with my whole life. It occurs to me that my brain simply cannot handle life the way a "normal" brain can. Depression is most certainly a disease. However, it may not "flare up" until you are exposed to the right stimulus. Depression, rather than being a disease you "catch" instead seems to be a condition one is born with...a condition that will make itself known when the right triggers come along. If you can manage to avoid such triggers all your life, you could conceivably never experience depression symptoms despite having a brain susceptible to depression.
Well, the right concoction of triggers entered into my life, and the tide turned. Depression has robbed me of years of happy meaningful living. I've learned valuable coping techniques and I definitely do not believe there is a magic pill for this debilitating disease. Any effective treatment will be a mixture of several things. However, medication CAN help. I went far too long before giving into that. I tried hard to beat my depression without trying medication...and after a while I simply could not do it any longer.
So, I finally made an appointment with a local doctor. Immediately I was prescribed Paxil. Gave it an honest try...with zero results. It did absolutely nothing. That was disappointing. My next attempt was with Wellbutrin. Better, but still no cigar. It seemed to relieve depressive symptoms by, say, 10%. Hardly worth it. Next, I tried the OTC natural route. I started taking 5-HTP at night and L-Tyrosine in the morning. This...helped...but just a bit. Still, better than the prescription meds. The plus was that these amino acids are inexpensive, quite natural(compared to rather synthetic feeling SSRIs and MAORIs), and non-addictive(huge plus). I highly highly highly recommend anyone suffering from depression give the 5-HTP/L-Tyrosine method a try. There's plenty of info online on how to administer doses. It seems to have helped many people to an extraordinary degree. It didn't help me AS MUCH as most people, but it helped. Again, before giving any prescription meds a try, give this a chance! It could be the answer you're looking for and you won't need to do anything else.
Anyway, sadly the 5-HTP/L-Tyrosine simply didn't cut it for me. I don't want to steer people away from this combo as it seems to be ridiculously effective for many...and it's rather safe. So, please, try it first!
OK, enough preaching. On to my own story...
I continued my downward spiral. Marijuana, when I can obtain it, has helped IMMENSELY with my depression. If it were only legal, I would have had a much much happier and healthier time in my 20s. It is flat out insane to me that it is an illegal drug. Such a shame. Not only is it a wonderful anti-depressant, but the empathetic, creative, and spiritual elements make it something you simply must try if you want a true taste of what the human experience can offer. But....it is illegal. And, I got caught. Yep, I had a friend over to write some music. We smoked beforehand, as musicians often do, and soon enough the cops were knocking at the door. They were at my apartment complex on an entirely unrelated call and were simply checking each apartment to make sure the residents were ok. We were quite OK, but they smelled the smoke, and basically barged in immediately, trashed my apartment, threw furniture over, and ransacked my place looking for the marijuana. They found it. I went to jail and was later sentenced to 15 days in jail. Well...that sure helped my depression. :P After getting out of jail I became horribly depressed. I'm a rather sensitive soul and jail was simply NOT a place conducive to my well being. I took it way too hard. Looking back on it now, I'm glad I had the experience. It taught me alot about a side of life I previously knew little of, but, at the time, I took it hard.
I began drinking heavily and was soon suicidal for the first time in my life. Soon after, I lost my job due to the economic crash of winter 2009. I lost my apartment and moved back in with my parents at 27. Things went from bad to worse, partly spurred on by my awful alcohol consumption. I was on probation after the marijuana incident and subsequently turned to alcohol to try and achieve the well-being that marijuana had given me since marijuana shows up in drug tests and alcohol...doesn't. Sadly, alcohol aggravated my depression to an extreme degree. One morning it all got to be too much and I was committed to kill myself. I look back on this morning with great sadness. I came so close to accidentally stabbing myself through the throat with a large butcher knife. My parents had to wrestle me to the ground. I caused them so much pain that morning...it hurts to think about it even now. After they got the knife away from me, they called the cops. When the cops showed up I was told I had to be put on mandatory 72 hour suicide watch at the local mental hospital. That was a fun day... :/
After I was released, I was DE-PRESSED as all hell. I simply lost the will to live. I simply couldn't understand why I felt SO bad. I had lost alot in life, yet I still had a life that 80% of the world would be envious of. Why did I feel so miserable? I knew something was wrong, chemically, in my brain. This problem simply went beyond a case of the blues. I had some sort of chemical imbalance or deficiency. Yet, I had tried nearly everything I could think of.
So....I got online, for the umpteenth time, to search out a cure. And I randomly stumbled upon suboxone. I knew a few friends who used it as opiate-detox/maintenance and they raved about it. It saved their life, albeit for a different reason than my life needed saving. It seemed to be a miracle drug in the opiate community. I had tried hydrocodone once, recreationally, and found it to be quite weak and nothing to write home about. I'm glad I never tried the harder opiates...I'm sure my depressive brain would have latched on to that and I'd have much bigger problems today than depression.
Suboxone seemed interesting. There were anecdotal reports of it being an effective depression therapy for SSRI/MAORI-resistant patients. It wasn't prescribed as such by hardly anyone, but the few who did use it for depression had good things to say. So, I decided I must give it a try. The hard part now would be to fake opiate withdrawal so I could get a prescription. I stayed awake for 2 nights straight...I began yawning constantly, was bleary eyed, my nose started running, and I was achy all over. Insomnia seemed to mimic opiate withdrawal quite nicely. Next, I went in for my appointment with the suboxone doctor. He bought my story easily. I looked miserable.
I felt somewhat guilty faking an addiction, but it was either this, or suicide. I knew that. I HAD to do something...or risk loosing my life.
I was given a prescription. The downside? The pills are EXPENSIVE! About $7 for one 8mg pill. Then again, suicide has it's own costs, doesn't it?
Most addicts are prescribed 8 to 16mg a day. Some even go as high as 32mg a day! An opiate-naive individual will get quite high from suboxone, using as little as 2mg. I decided to start by taking a measly .5mg. That's right...1/16th of the pill. Luckily, this made the extreme price a bit easier to swallow. I could make one pill last 16 days!
I took my first dose...and waited. About 30 minutes after putting it under my tongue, I felt....ok. Kind of...good. I had energy I hadn't had in years. Depression leaves you feeling weary and worn, mentally and physically. The suboxone gave me a noticeable boost, mentally and physically. I didn't feel high by any means. I just felt good. I felt comfortable in my body, in my own skin. I also felt less socially anxious. I started chatting up my mom and felt quite good about life in general. My problems didn't melt away or disappear...BUT, for the first time in AGES they felt...manageable. Life didn't feel so overwhelming and bleak. You know when the sky is overcast and gray...and then the sun peaks out and everything gets a bit lighter and warms up a bit? It felt like that.
I was thrilled. This tiny crumb of a pill changed everything. AND...it lasted forever. The feeling lingered into next morning, at which time I could notice my usual heavy depressive feelings resume a bit. In all, this .5mg dose lasted me a good 24 hour period. And I wasn't high at all. Just normal...what I assume normal must be like.
I've been using suboxone like this now for about 6 months. IT SAVED MY LIFE. I now use about 1mg a day. This simply seems to be the most effective dose. I don't feel any need to increase it ever. I have tried, out of curiosity, about 4mg at once. And this is where a word of caution is needed. Suboxone IS an opioid. It's not heroin by any means, BUT a 4mg dose WILL get you high. It was a rather enjoyable high too. I felt super energetic. I nice mix of that opiated lull mixed with a speedy energetic buzz. I wanted to talk to everyone in sight, was happy as could be, and thought cleaning the entire house sounded like the most fun I could possibly have. I can definitely see where habitual recreational use could turn into a problem. So...there's your caution. That IS indeed a downside...BUT, I simply have the will power to use this only for what I need it for...as an anti-depressant, using 1mg a day. The chaos of my past has taught me well...addiction is NOT worth the trouble.
A word on addiction, while on the subject....Suboxone is addictive. No way around that. After 5 months of daily use, I decided to stop cold turkey just to see what would happen. Sure enough, I went into withdrawal. Was it horrible? Not at all. Was it really uncomfortable? Yep. It kicks in about 2 days after your last dose, gets worse for about a week, and then gets better. I got back on it after that week. I now know that should I ever need to get off this, I can. At 1mg/day that is. Any more and I imagine the withdrawal could be a hell in it's own right. This is a drug that demands will power! If you don't have the necessary will power, be careful. Of course, as other posters have stated correctly, depression itself is dangerous and most prescription depression meds are quite addictive. Personally, I'm totally fine with the moderate addiction I have to 1mg suboxone. It's a trade-off that makes sense compared to the depression hell I've suffered through long enough.
I hope this post(remember I said I'd keep it short? lol) helps someone...even just one person. Suboxone is not easy to get prescribed. I did my homework beforehand. Many doctors will drug test you to make sure you do indeed have opiates in your system....so be forewarned. Look up how long it takes certain opiates to leave your system so that when your urine test shows up clean, you have a good story about how long your withdrawal has been going on for. And research opiate withdrawal symptoms. It won't be easy. It requires some oscar-worthy acting. I feel a bit uneasy advising anyone to lie to get an opioid....BUT, it saved my life. So...I'm a bit biased.
BEFORE YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT USING SUBOXONE FOR DEPRESSION.... Give 5-HTP/L-Tyrosine an honest try for a few weeks. Also...exercise! Eat right! Drink alot of water! Get enough sleep! I cannot recommend that enough. When you're depressed, that advice sounds petty, I know. I was there. I'd think "Exercise?? Sorry...but my depression is too strong to be helped by mere exercise." Don't be stubborn...a healthy diet, sleeping habits, and lifestyle will do more to combat depression than even suboxone. It took getting on suboxone for me to get the willpower to finally give those things a try...and when I finally did, I wished I had tried such simple(and free) remedies much sooner. Now, combined with a low-dose suboxone regimen, I'm FINALLY living the life I was meant to live. I'm balanced, happy, and life is meaningful.
My life has even taken on a spiritual dimension. When depressed, I was a super cynic. I hated the police(for obvious reasons) and hated religion. I still do to some extent lol...BUT, I've learned to put away hate. Righteous anger? Sure. But...no more hate. I'm not religious by any means, but not being depressed has allowed me to develop my spiritual/aesthetic/social/creative life in a way that has allowed me to do more than just survive...I now can FLOURISH! Life is no longer just about getting by and not dying...it's about seizing on my potential to live a satisfying, meaningful, and joyful human experience.
I'm SO grateful to suboxone. That little orange stop sign shaped pill saved my life. I would be dead and rotting in the ground right NOW if it hadn't been for this left-field anti-depressant. I hope the medical community soon recognizes the benefits of this and gets over their opiate phobias. Sure, opiates aren't anything to prescribe like candy...but for patients who face certain death due to their depression, it can help.
I hope anyone who suffered through reading this mini novel finds it useful. I hope it may inspire someone in the depths of suicidal depression to consider a radical alternative that requires some work on your part to obtain. AND...I hope no one uses my story as an excuse to use suboxone, or any other opiate, as their first line of defense. Suboxone is a miracle drug for many....BUT, it should be the last thing you try, when all else has failed. Otherwise, I can almost guarantee, it will hurt you more than help. It is a very potent, long acting, addictive in moderate doses, opiate. Don't take it lightly, please.