Suboxone Stories - Part 2

Two clients open up about the emotional challenges of opioid replacement therapy.  

Trish and Dwayne would agree that tackling an opioid addiction is not a journey for the faint-hearted. The two recently made the courageous decision to give up prescription painkillers in favour of Suboxone, a drug used to treat dependence on prescription or illegal opioids. For both of them, the negative physical and emotional effects of being addicted to prescription opioids got to be too much. 

“I was at a breaking point and I was just so unhappy,” says Trish. “I had been living with this for more than five years and over the last year I couldn’t remember what it was like to be happy inside.” 

Dwayne also says that while he depended on prescription opioids to manage his severe chronic pain, he recognized that the drugs were cutting him off from his true self. “You get to the point where you’re constantly focused on the next dose,” he says. “You are a slave to it and you realize you’re living in a fog. I am a very social person, but after a while, I stopped being that way. I wasn’t myself anymore.” 

Two months after replacing prescription opioids with Suboxone, both Trish and Dwayne are learning to adapt to intense physical discomfort. Suboxone provides relief from the physical addiction to opioids, but it doesn’t provide relief from pain. The two are also adapting to new emotional realities. 

“To be honest, the emotional side sucks,” says Dwayne. “I was used to having those endorphins opened up in my head when I was taking the opioids. Now that’s gone and I have to deal with it.”

Heeding those emotions is an important, but difficult, task, says Patricia Vickers, FNHA’s director of mental wellness, community health and wellness services. 

“Emotions are there as a guide for us,” she says. “But if you’re in a constant state of suffering, it’s hard to pay attention to that guide because the suffering is too raw. That’s why many people who use drugs do what they do. Taking the drug relieves you from an intolerable reality and provides a sense of comfort and feeling that everything is going to be okay.”

Yet, as she says, this choice brings with it a loss. “You are not connecting with yourself in a way you need to because of this great need to escape.” 

Dwayne is working hard to reconnect to himself and others. He is on a low-dose anti-depressant, and he makes the effort to get out with friends and family, head out in his boat, spend time with his son and continue his volunteer work at the local arena. 

Trish has also had difficult days since switching to Suboxone. “But I know it’s better in the long run and I have to give it time. It’s on me to make this choice work.”

She recently started a full-time job, which provides her with helpful structure. “Work is a big positive in my day. It gives me something to focus on other than my pain, and since it’s a new job, I’m learning every day, which I really like.” 

Trish also says her family’s solid foundation of support has seen her through dark times. 

“My family is my life and light,” she says. “They are often the only thing keeping me going. My husband has always been so great and my daughter is so gentle and sensitive. I know that not a lot of people have this level of support, and it is hard to imagine going through this without them.”

The importance of the love and support of friends and family cannot be overstated. As Vickers reminds us, the healing process is an ongoing journey. “We never arrive, yet we do arrive. In other words, I’m ok but I’m not ok.”
For those recovering from addiction – and for their loved ones – these are words to keep in mind. They are a reminder that the journey to health and wellness is never over, and that we all require a community of support as we walk along our paths of healing.


Are you or your loved one living with an addiction to opioids? FNHA is here as a health and wellness partner to assist individuals and families struggling with addictions. We know that working through addiction issues can be difficult, and we encourage those looking for help to connect with us or talk to their health-care providers about available options. 

If you’re interested in learning more about opioid replacement therapy or starting your own treatment journey, we encourage you to ask your health-care provider about Suboxone. The cost of the drug is covered by BC Pharmacare and the First Nations Health Benefits program. 

Support in your community may also be available. For a list of our residential treatment centres, please visit our page here:

Read part 1 here.
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