THE DOUBLE-EDGED DRUG Addiction Treatment With a Dark Side
In Demand in Clinics and on the Street, ‘Bupe’ Can Be a Savior or a Menace
By Deborah Sontag
The New York Times
Photo Caption: After two years of buprenorphine treatment, Shawn Schneider has rebounded from a self-destructive addiction to painkillers.Leslye Davis/The New York Times
For Shawn Schneider, a carpenter and rock musician, the descent into addiction began one Wisconsin winter with a fall from a rooftop construction site onto the frozen ground below. As the potent pain pills prescribed for his injuries became his obsessive focus, he lost everything: his band, his job, his wife, his will to live.
Mr. Schneider was staying in his parents’ basement when he washed down 40 sleeping pills with NyQuil and beer. His father heard him gasping and intervened, a reprieve that led Mr. Schneider into rehab, not his first program, but the one where he discovered buprenorphine, a substitute opioid used to treat opioid addiction.
In the two years since, by taking his “bupe” twice daily and meeting periodically with the prescribing psychiatrist, Mr. Schneider, 38, has rebounded. He is sober, remarried, employed building houses, half of a new acoustic duo and one of the many addicts who credit buprenorphine, sold mostly in a compound called Suboxone, with saving their lives.
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