As part of our chronic pain program, we offer people who have been on escalating levels of opioid painkillers a carefully managed opioid detoxification program – to help them halt narcotic use or lower their dose to a safer level.
Most of our patients are referred for opioid detoxification by a primary care pain specialist within UC San Diego Health.
Those who may benefit from our opioid detoxification services include:
- cancer survivors on high doses of opioids for intense pain, or
- patients with chronic, non-cancer-related pain.
We do not treat people with illicit substance abuse issues.
Medically managed detoxification involves the administration of the oral drug Suboxone.
Suboxone contains a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Both are opioids but naloxone is a special opioid drug that reverses the effects of other narcotic medicines.
People who take Suboxone typically experience some easing of pain but without the euphoria, associated with addiction. Those referred for opioid detox will be evaluated and counseled on an advised management plan. Patients’ first dose of Suboxone is administered at the clinic so that their response to the drug can be monitored by medical professionals. If the drug is deemed safe, Suboxone can be taken at home subsequently and patients may, if appropriate, have their pain managed in a primary care setting.
Depending on a person’s pain issues and response to the medication, Suboxone may be taken for several weeks or for a longer, sustained period of time. In cases where a person’s pain level cannot be controlled without the use of standard opioids, a person may be re-prescribed narcotic painkillers.