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 Post subject: NA and suboxone...
PostPosted: Sat May 23, 2009 11:23 am 
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hello all,

so, i have been reading all over the place about how people have these experiences where they're told that they're "not really clean" at NA meetings. I love NA, i stumbled into it when i ran out of options a tiny bit over a year ago, and have stayed and really would suggest it to anyone who wants to do something about their problem. while i do love the steps, and the program, human beings in general at times can be wrong, rude, opinionated, and all sorts of things.. and just because they attend twelve step meetings doesnt make them perfect.

in addition to the 12 steps there are also 12 traditions. and the fifth tradition says that "the only requirement for membership is a DESIRE to stop using". people also say "recovery is personal".

i guess what i'm getting at is this: the day after i started suboxone treatment, i told a woman i had met at my first meeting i had started suboxone i felt so much better, bla bla. someone overheard us and told me: "why would you do that?! you were on the home stretch?!" (6 days is so not the home stretch). he didn't lecture me, or tell me i wasn't clean, but i decided that i was going to keep suboxone to myself (and my sponsor), because i didn't want to hear it, and i knew myself i wasn't getting high.

and over time, i've met tons of people in meetings who stick and stay and get recovery who are on suboxone! occasionally someone will badmouth it, but really: if recovery is personal, and the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using, does it really matter? dr junig said in his video that the focus should be on saving lives, and he's right. but to me that also means that my focus should be on saving my own life, doing whatever i have to do, staying clean with the same vigor i put into getting high.... and not focusing on opinions and differences. there is so much good to be learned at NA, but there are also alot of opinions and interpretations and self righteousness. take what you need and leave the rest.

as it isn't really in good form to go into specifics about drugs at meetings anyway, i just keep the separation. when i have an issue, i talk to my people who are on suboxone, or my sponsor, or my DOCTOR, and always read the messageboard.

i really think the best thing for myself has been sticking with NA and working the steps, in addition to the suboxone. it seems like the ideal treatment, and i don't plan on stopping anything. the suboxone holds my physical side of my disease intact, while the meetings take care of the mental/spiritual.

sorry to me so wordy, i have just had a great experience with NA, and would hate to see an addict miss out on the possibility of all of the great things i have experienced there.

have a good weekend, and be well.
jp


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:18 pm 
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I went to NA meetings and they told me I wasn't really clean. I had a sponser and he said the same. One day at the begining of the meeting the leader said that if your on methadone or suboxone that pls just be quiet and let the others talk and when your sober you can talk. Needless after that I pretty much shut them all out I felt like crap. I was doing really good too. I still am and have been on suboxone for almost 2 yrs now and im still clean and 75% of them are in and out still. When I was in rehab the one councler told me that it was ok to be in NA if your on suboxone he told me that they told his one sponsee the same thing the guy felt so bad he got off of it and O.D. not to long after. I would rather not have other addicts looking down on me cause what I think is good for me like there better or somthing. Have a good one.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:35 pm 
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I am happy for people who enjoy NA and what it provides them with, but it is not for me and it is not for the Suboxone or methadone crowd. For me, it is hypocritical to sit in meetings knowing I am doing better in my recovery than the majority of people telling me I have a problem because I depend on Suboxone. There is nothing for me to be ashamed or embarrassed of and I do not feel it necessary for a group of recovering addicts to silence me for my preferred method of putting my life in order. I choose to not be uncomfortable in NA because I take Suboxone.
It is time for people in recovery that are not members of 12 step groups to build their own source of support groups.I think it is completely possible to create meetings for people in medication assisted recovery in every town in the US. Our recovery is unique and has its own set of problems and solutions. I want and need fellowship from people like me-people on Suboxone, and I need to be able to speak about it as openly as I choose.I have a voice and it is my right to not be silenced.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 1:01 am 
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Such a tough topic... the steps saved my life twice, so I certainly have respect for the message. I have two problems, though, with NA and AA in regard to opiate dependence. The first is that if you look at the numbers, getting and staying clean from AA or NA is a rare phenomenon. Very rare. Yes, it does occur-- but the typical experience is repeated episodes of sobriety and using. A major problem with opiates is the fatal nature of opiate dependence-- really 'getting' recovery often requires some sort of horrible rock bottom experience, and with opiates, people often die before that happens (or during the rock bottom experience). Trying to get an opiate addict to 'get it' through the steps by dragging him to meetings or forcing treatment is almost always a waste of time; success rates for forced residential treatment are very low. For a lucky 5-10%, it is a fabulous way to go. But now that we have an epidemic, a 90% failure rate just doesn't cut it-- it leaves too many dead bodies behind.

Next point... I see people at Nova, a residential center where I am medical director where they dislike Suboxone and never use it, and I see people in my office on Suboxone. I see NO evidence that the 'quality of sobriety' is better in the 'step' people. No evidence at all. To be honest, if I had to say which group tends to be employed, to have improving relationships, to be building self-esteem, and to stay on a positive path , I would pick the buprenorphine group. Sorry, but that is how I see it-- and I was/am a 'step recovery' person. I expected to see a dry drunk phenomenon, but that is not the case-- not at all.

Finally, I am not big on forcing NA or AA on people who take Suboxone. If they like the meetings, cool-- go, and keep your medical info to yourself. But in my experience, 'getting' the steps and getting clean that way requires changing one's personality, and that requires the addict to develop almost an obsession for NA or AA built from desperation-- and addicts on Suboxone quickly lose their desperation. So for those addicts, the meetings are more of an educational experience than they are for a person NOT on Suboxone, who must really 'give himself up' and adapt to the steps.

I am disappointed that any addict-- in or out of meetings-- would try to say one addict is somehow more 'clean' than the next. Isn't that what we call 'taking another person's inventory?'


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 Post subject: I don't like cults
PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 4:44 pm 
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My problem with NA is the cult-like environment in which you cannot think for yourself and wind up becoming dependent on the program itself. The twelve steps, which you simply must adhere to at all times, become your new "bible" - written by the church of NA. I wanted to free myself from the bonds of drug addiction & dependence so that I could regain control of my own life and think for myself again. In a twelve-step program you really can't achieve true freedom of mind because you're simply replacing one dependence (drugs) for another dependence (NA). Also, I've met far too many NA members who think and behave like brainwashed droids, many of them deathly afraid of missing even one meeting because of an instilled fear that doing so might result in immediate relapse. I'm sorry, but that is not the kind of freedom from addiction I am shooting for. I mean no offense to any past or present members who achieved sobriety through the program (I do believe that an "addiction" to NA is definitely better then addiction to actual narcotics), it's just that I believe people must learn/be able to think on their own if they ever want to be truly happy and successful in this life.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:21 pm 
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NA's "official" position is that people on Suboxone/MMT can come to meetings and sit quietly. Period. We are not supposed to speak at meetings, we can't run meetings, can't be real members. We are not considered to be "clean" (terminology which I dislike anyway) and they can't have people who might be high messing up their [s]church service[/s] meetings.

My main problem with NA though is the weird circular logic inherent to the program. It reminds me too much of organized religion, which is another thing I'm recovering from.

But yeah, more power to anyone who finds it works for them.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 3:58 pm 
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I too love NA and finds it really compliements my suboxone program. I have also run across a few people that frown upon the use of suboxone, well its my recovery. I consider the first day that I got on suboxone my "clean date" August 1st 2009. I don't care what others say, its my choice.

See, I did this a few years ago and was on suboxone for about 4 months then I was clean for another year after that. I counted all the time I had "clean" time. I relapsed in January and have been relapsing ever since. So I decided to do what worked the first time and that was sub.

I love NA and am excited to be back on the sub becuse I really want to stay clean!


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 4:07 pm 
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Also, on another note, I have never heard that's its NA's offical position that you are not "clean" when on suboxone. It's their offical position that NA and its members are not doctors and should not act as such. I am allowed to speak and am grateful for that. Maybe it's just the area I am in, in that case boy and I grateful!


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 7:31 pm 
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This is from NA's website:

Quote:
Members on drug replacement programs such as methadone are encouraged to attend NA meetings. But, this raises the question: "Does NA have the right to limit members participation in meetings?" We believe so. While some groups choose to allow such members to share, it is also a common practice for NA groups to encourage these members (or any other addict who is still using), to participate only by listening and by talking with members after the meeting or during the break. This is not meant to alienate or embarrass; this is meant only to preserve an atmosphere of recovery in our meetings.

Our Fifth Tradition defines our groups' purpose: to carry the message that any addict can stop using and find a new way to live. We carry that message at our recovery meetings, where those who have some experience with NA recovery can share about it, and those who need to hear about NA recovery can listen. When an individual under the influence of a drug attempts to speak on recovery in Narcotics Anonymous, it is our experience that a mixed, or confused message may be given to a newcomer (or any member, for that matter) For this reason, many groups believe it is inappropriate for these members to share at meetings of Narcotics Anonymous.

It may be argued that a group's autonomy, as described in our Fourth Tradition, allows them to decide who may share at their meetings. However, while this is true, we believe that group autonomy does not justify allowing someone who is using to lead a meeting, be a speaker, or serve as a trusted servant. Group autonomy stands only until it affects other groups or NA as a whole. We believe it affects other groups and NA as a whole when we allow members who are not clean to be a speaker, chair a meeting, or be a trusted servant for NA.

Many groups have developed guidelines to ensure that an atmosphere of recovery is
maintained in their meetings. The following points are usually included:

*
Suggesting that those who have used any drug within the last twenty-four hours refrain from sharing, but encouraging them to get together with members during the break or after the meeting.
*
Abiding by our fellowship's suggested clean time requirements for service positions.
*
Seeking meeting leaders, chairpersons, or speakers who help further our primary purpose of carrying the message to the addict who still suffers.

We make a distinction between drugs used by drug replacement programs and other prescribed drugs because such drugs are prescribed specifically as addiction treatment. Our program approaches recovery from addiction through abstinence, cautioning against the substitution of one drug for another. That's our program; it's what we offer the addict who still suffers. However, we have absolutely no opinion on methadone maintenance or any other program aimed at treating addiction. Our only purpose in addressing drug replacement and its use by our members is to define abstinence for ourselves.

Our fellowship must be mindful of what kind of message we are carrying if a still-using addict leads a meeting, or becomes a trusted servant. We believe that under these circumstances we would not be carrying the Narcotics Anonymous message of recovery. Permissiveness in this area is not consistent with our traditions. We believe our position on this issue reinforces our recovery, protects our meetings, and supports addicts in striving for total abstinence.

All emphasis is added by me. To me, this says that NA considers people on medication-assisted treatment to be "still using" and by their very own language, "not clean." I guess they do leave it up to individual meetings to decide if people on Sub or methadone can share, but they clearly state that it's within the rights of whoever runs the meeting to NOT allow us to share.

If it works for people, that's great. I'm just saying this is the offical position on the situation.

http://web.na.org/?ID=bulletins-bull29

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 8:00 pm 
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Well, I am not here to debate the supposed "rules" of NA. I just want people to know that its a lot more excepted than before. The fellowhip that I belong to (a very large one in California) goes by the NA Steps, Traditions and litature and no where in any of that does it state when you posted. I guess I am very, very lucky to belong to such a supportive fellowship.

I have tried to get clean on suboxone alone before and was not sucessful. For this addict, I need the support of the fellowship of NA and suboxone. I also do not plan to be on it for very long either.

I also wanted to say thank you for that information from the website. I did not know that was on there.

Have a great evening!


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 8:06 pm 
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To add to my previous post there is a whole handout they have at meetings about NA's standing on Medications and recovery. It states that we are not doctors and that as long as your are taking the medication as prescribed and not using it to get high than you are clean.

My sponsor has 16 years clean and is from old school "Nothing No Matter What" time does not have a problem with me being on the sub. My clean date is August 1st 2009 and I have 10 days clean today and am soooo exicted about that. Its my recovery and no one can take that away from me.

Like I said, I don't want to debate or argue, that is not my intention. We can just agree to disagree.

I hope you have a wonderful night.

Thanks again!


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 8:17 pm 
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Sorry to keep posting.. :)

This excerp is from the IP I was telling you about

"Medication in Recovery

The use of medication in recovery is often controversial. It’s good to remember that the Basic
Text recommends consulting professionals concerning our medical problems. When we remember
that the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using, we as members can set aside
our judgment of others. Clean time is an issue for each of us to resolve individually with our sponsor
and our Higher Power. An attitude of judgment on our part could cause great harm to another
addict."


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 8:20 pm 
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Quote:
For this addict, I need the support of the fellowship of NA and suboxone. I also do not plan to be on it for very long either.


Anyone who uses Suboxone in their recovery needs more than the medication.Only when one addresses the reasons they used initially can recovery truly become a reality!

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:41 pm 
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I totally agree :)
Whether it be a twelve stop program or counsiling of some kind. One does need to get to the root of the problem and resolve any issues that might be contributing to the reason we want to change the way we feel.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 8:59 pm 
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My NA group doesn't support the use of Suboxone, so I keep my treatment plan to myself. I've been on Sub for 5 months now, and haven't fudged once, nor have I had the desire to do so. (By the way, although my doc said I didn't need to taper for the 1st year, I've gone from 16mg per day to 2mg per day without increased cravings).

Initially, I loved NA. Those people were the only ones in my life who knew what I was going through and encouraged me. I also learned a lot about myself and why I used, as well as new ways of thinking about drug use. As someone else stated though, my needs have changed a lot since I've been on Subs. I am able to work a normal job, sleep without anxiety, and make it through long stretches of time without even thinking about opiates. But when I go to meetings, it seems like most people are either relapsing or striving to make it just one more day without using. I won't be so cocky as to say I'm "cured", but re-living the past is not for me anymore.

Fortunately, my NA group does a lot of extra-curricular activities; we play beach volleyball, sing karaoke, and have cook outs. These I do attend, because I find it somewhat awkward to be the non drinker in a few of my other social circles, and I enjoy the drug-free fellowship.

The group is somewhat cult-like though, and at least in my group, being non-judgemental is a front when it's there at all. Since I keep my usage private, I end up overhearing a lot of gossip about those who publicly acknowledge their use. Sub is looked down upon, and those who admit to being on it can't share and are strongly encouraged to give it up. If I followed the rules, this would be a real bummer, because now that I'm on Sub, I'm finally clear-headed enough that something I'd share would be cohesive and might be helpful to others.

The thing to remember is that these guys aren't gods or even medical professionals, as I treated them at first. They are a bunch of people who were at least as messed up as you, if not more so, and turned to drugs. Pointing out the faults of others is rarely done in the love or concern in which it's masked, but rather, to make the individual feel better about their own clean time. Addicts are insecure by nature, so its hard to be surprised or offended by this, I guess...


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 8:39 pm 
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So, if I am correct- you keep your Suboxone use to yourself and celebrate your recovery by accepting key tags and being involved in the other NA rituals? It just seems wrong to me to live a lie(By not disclosing taking Suboxone). I am NOT picking on you by any means, please trust me on that. This is exactly why I chose to stop going to NA myself. I felt like a hypocrite in a sense, a trader. It was not fair of me to pretend I was working the NA program the way it's intended while everyone else was struggling for that "one more day".
I am just concerned that eventually you will find yourself in a situation you do not deserve to be in.Just be careful, and know this is the very reason those of us on Suboxone and other medications in recovery need our OWN support groups.The only way it can happen is if we make it happen!

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Last edited by shelwoy on Thu Aug 20, 2009 2:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Hmmm
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 10:04 pm 
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Maybe I'm being misunderstood, but isn't YOUR post is awfully judgemental? Where is your respect for the decisions of others? What I said was that I go to the group fellowship activities if they are having an outing, because I need clean and sober companionship. To me, this is not living a lie. No, I don't have keytag celebrations, but I don't really see anything wrong with it if I did. For me, I WOULD be celebrating how long I consider myself clean. Fortunately, my sobriety doesn't revolve around a colored piece of plastic that I'd be mortified if anyone saw.

Thanks for the pleasant welcome. Yes, in joining this forum, I was hoping to find companionship with others more like myself. I expected it because it began with a doc's story, and I am also an MD. Apparently though, I was wrong. This group is obviously not for me.

Later. :(


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 2:14 pm 
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No,my post is not judgmental and I went out of my way to make that clear to you. This reply was meant to offer you a warning if somewhere down the road people shun you for not disclosing your Suboxone treatment.It is not uncommon, and I have been told by NA members that I may not claim clean time in NA if I am taking Suboxone, so I found other means of support. I totally agree with you in celebrating your recovery, as I do the same thing.There really was no reason for you to get so defensive, I was simply sharing my feelings about what I personally experienced and what you may have to deal with someday.
Quote:
Fortunately, my sobriety doesn't revolve around a colored piece of plastic that I'd be mortified if anyone saw.

Who's being judgmental?

I do not attend NA because I relate to how you feel about this:
Quote:
Initially, I loved NA. Those people were the only ones in my life who knew what I was going through and encouraged me. I also learned a lot about myself and why I used, as well as new ways of thinking about drug use. As someone else stated though, my needs have changed a lot since I've been on Subs. I am able to work a normal job, sleep without anxiety, and make it through long stretches of time without even thinking about opiates. But when I go to meetings, it seems like most people are either relapsing or striving to make it just one more day without using. I won't be so cocky as to say I'm "cured", but re-living the past is not for me anymore


But, I choose to not partake in social activities in NA either because it is not fair to those who are working their program without medication assistance to see me doing just fine as I hide the fact that I am using medication assistance.

This was not a personal attack- It was an example to express the desperate need for a group support system specifically for people in medication assisted recovery treatment. I am sorry you could not understand that.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 9:54 pm 
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Shelwoy:

I am going to go ahead and give you the benefit of the doubt, and presume that something about your attitude is getting lost in translation. I like to believe that most people actually do have good intentions, and that perhaps the flavor, sarcasm, or sentiment can be misinterpreted when conveyed in print. That said, I will thoughtfully address your post as best I can.

Quote:
No, my post is not judgmental and I went out of my way to make that clear to you.

Quote:
I am sorry you could not understand that.


Yes, I realize that you prefaced your remarks with something to the effect of "Not to pick on you, but...". Unfortunately, couching insults within claims that they aren't meant to be offensive doesn't make them any less insulting. You basically accused me of "living a lie".

Quote:
Who's being judgmental?


Maybe you misunderstood me, but I don't think it's judgmental of me to say that I am embarrassed for any random person in my grocery store or work place to know -by looking at what I'm carrying- how long it's been since I last used drugs, or that I ever had a problem in the first place. If people are proud to put their previous addiction and subsequent recovery on public display, more power to them. For me, it is something of which I'm ashamed.


Quote:
I choose to not partake in social activities in NA either because it is not fair to those who are working their program without medication assistance to see me doing just fine as I hide the fact that I am using medication assistance.


I guess this where you and I really disagree. Now mind you, since I've been clean, my conscience is easier to hear, and I try to be aware of the impact my actions have on other people. By nature, we addicts hurt the people who love us the most, and that's something I'm sick of doing.

That said, perhaps the social activities of other NA fellowships are set up differently than mine. Where I go, the softball games are for playing softball, and the karaoke songs aren't songs about addiction. It's just a group of friends, who met through NA, having good, clean fun together. For us, the meetings are where people share about their struggles. I guess what I don't understand is why you think it is unfair for someone working an NA program to see someone else doing just fine at a SOCIAL GATHERING. I am not a youth pastor— my reason for going to a sober sporting event isn't to offer myself as a sacrifice for others to struggle alongside…then again, that’s not what I see the others who are there doing either. It’s not as if I giggle and hop-scotch in circles around someone crying about their addiction, shrug my shoulders, and say, “I dunno, it all seems pretty easy to me!” :lol: while I cackle on the inside, knowing the REAL reason… Frankly, drugs and our personal strategies for combatting them just aren’t subject matter at these events. If they were, I wouldn’t go. My Suboxone use isn't my deepest, darkest secret, though. There has been no round table discussion in which we were each asked whether we used Suboxone, and I was untruthful.

Former addicts need light-hearted socialization too, and I don’t think their path to sobriety should dictate who their supportive, sober friends can be. There are many ways to recovery. Must followers of NA only associate with other struggling followers of NA at all times? Isn’t it beneficial enough that they can be in an environment where their companions aren't pressuring them to use drugs or alcohol? By the same token, does an atheist in NA need to the "out" themselves for not having a higher power?

Everyone with an addiction problem who is working the steps will have ways in which they customize their own program. To me, this is no different. If it weren't for the things I learned in NA, I probably wouldn't be clean today. When I was first on Subs, I was still going to meetings. I rationalized this because anyone I’d met who opposed Suboxone therapy simply hadn't used it, and thus were unaware of how "anti-high" one feels while taking it. Of course a room full of users is going to assume that replacement therapy is replacing a high! How would they know differently? Those in the program who have been on methadone maintenance have experienced replacement therapy that can create a “high”, so they are especially leery of members in any kind of replacement program. Luckily, an NA meeting run by its own protocol prohibits talking about drugs by name or dose anyhow—the meat and potatoes of the message is about mending attitudes and behaviors that drew addicts to drugs in the first place. I think the rest of the advice, from no Suboxone to no dating, should just be taken with a grain of salt.

Shelwoy, I think that fundamentally, the reason you take issue with my NA-event attendance has more to do with your personal belief, as stated in a previous post, that NA is “not for the methadone or Suboxone crowd”, and that we are “in desperate need of our own support group.” While I do wish that NA were more accepting of medication assisted programs, it doesn’t make or break my recovery. I have no problem tailoring a program to my liking or best use, because no group (our exchange being case-in-point) will have all the answers.

I see that you are a moderator. I’ll leave you with 3 suggestions. First, try to lead by example, by following the instructions I see above me in the pink box: “Please Show Respect for the Decisions of Others.” This would include not chastising them upon their first visit for “living a lie”. Second, change the name on this topic from “NA and Suboxone” to “Why you can’t go to NA on Suboxone.” It’s misleading for newcomers who might think that they are allowed to post a positive NA experience. Lastly, as a known and experienced persona on this forum, try to make people who are new to the forum feel welcome. New posters and recent addicts feel vulnerable enough, and should be welcomed, not criticized for seeking support here.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 2:23 pm 
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Obviously, you are still being defensive and there is nothing I can do about that.I have stated my feelings, and everyone interprets things their own way.
I am sorry if you felt attacked. This forum is here to discuss ANYTHING having to do with Suboxone and NA/12 step recovery.
My feelings about it are personal, as are yours. Just because I happen to disagree with you, it doesn't mean this has to be a pissing match about right and wrong. I will not apologize for how I feel. I have been researching Buprenorphine for years now, and I have talked with many people who have been treated like outcasts in NA because they use Suboxone. It has been my mission and one of my personal goals to help create an environment for people using Suboxone as part of their recovery to have their own group support system because there is a direct conflict with NA's belief system if a person is on Suboxone. It leads to allot of confusion to people who don't need that problem added to everything else in their lives.

Quote:
I guess what I don't understand is why you think it is unfair for someone working an NA program to see someone else doing just fine at a SOCIAL GATHERING.


I don't. I think I made it clear what I disagree with. You are correct ,you can socialize with anyone you choose.

I do appreciate your suggestions. I still feel the same and I know you feel like I personally attacked you, there is nothing else I can do to help you understand my reasoning.I wish you all the best on your recovery. This site is not anti NA whatsoever, and the name of the topic is just fine. There is nothing wrong with posting a positive NA experience, just like there is nothing wrong with posting about a negative one. Lastly, you are the only person who ever said I personally made them feel unwelcome, and again that was not my intent and I am sorry if you felt that way. Debate is natural, and happens quite often here and on many other sites. I hope you can move past this and utilize this site in other ways.

_________________
"It is never too late to be what you might have been!" - George Eliot


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Fond Du Lac Psychiatry
Dr. Jeffrey Junig, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Board Certified Psychiatrist
  • Asst Clinical Professor, Medical College of Wisconsin

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