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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 8:51 am 
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Hi everyone. My name is Brit and I'm a 30 year old addict that received the Probuphine implant in Feb 2017. I've since had it removed as it is only approved for a 6 month time period. I'd like to help spread the word about this treatment but am also in search of someone out there who has also had it so we can share our experiences with each other. Please feel free to ask any questions... This treatment isn't covered by insurance as of right now but that has alot to do with the fact that it was only FDA approved a little over a year ago (I was only the 4th person in New England to have he procedure done.) I'm an open book on my psyche the days before the implant to how my body adjusted and how I feel after having it removed. If you have had the implant or still have it, please reach out!! Thank you so much... And remember, recovery IS possible.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:16 am 
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Hello Brit! Welcome.

Please share ur experience with the implant when u have time. There's definitely not a lot of information out there from a patients perspective. We'd love to hear about it :)

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 6:14 pm 
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Hi Brit,
Could you please share your experience here? I have been looking for a first person account for quite awhile. My Sub doctor is very excited about this implant and has been encouraging me to get it for several months. We are exploring it with my insurance company right now, he has had a few patients whose insurance has payed for it I definitely do not have the money to pay out of pocket so I would need insurance to help. Regardless of cost I have wondered if it would've a good treatment. I see pros and cons to the treatment and I've gone back and forth so many times. So, can you please share your thoughts? Did it work well for you? Did your Buprenorphine levels feel more stable throughout the day? Were there any downsides to the treatment? Are you going to have another implant and why or why not? Are you taking Suboxone now? I know that is a lot of questions but I've really wanted to hear from someone. So, if you could share I would be grateful.
All the best!
Tragicom

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:58 am 
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So Happy you found me!! Here's my story...

I started using opiates at 22. I maintained for a few years until I started my journey toward sobriety in 2011. After leaving rehab, I was on no medication until my husband offered me a Suboxone and I was instantly hooked. I've been on either Suboxone or heroin for the past 6 years straight. From 2014 to 2016 I was "stable" on 8mgs of Sub per day with no relapse. I attributed this to my being in Massage Therapy school where I learned how to really breathe, meditate and use aroma therapy. Not to mention weekly massages which undoubtedly helped some side effects of the Suboxone. Because let's be honest, as long as I had to wake up every day and reach for something to get out of bed, there was no feeling 100%.... So unfortunately, during my time in school, my husband cheated and got his young gf pregnant (I can no longer have children because I just didn't take care of myself when I was in active addiction...) So naturally this devestated me and I wanted to die... After asking him to leave and suddenly being alone with myself I had a weak moment. This was last September. Well, the game has changed since 2013 and fentanyl nearly ended my life twice. I didn't care. I thought my child would be better off. But my mother didn't. She never gave up on me and after months of research she stumbled across this treatment at about 3am. She said she cried and cried because she knew that if she could convince me, this implant would probably save my life.
It took a little convincing but I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, even with unlimited access to sublingual Suboxone. I knew that I could stay sober if I could just get over the hump of the initial withdrawal and cravings... I'd done it before so it was hard to think I couldn't do it again right?! I went into detox in early February and obviously the withdrawal was terrible but my doctor let the hospital know I was coming directly from their facility to the implantation so they maintained an 8mg dose while I was there. It's important to be on 8mg or less because the first month or so the implant had to adjust to your body and withdrawal symptoms can happen. I wasn't exactly "stable" on 8mg by the day of my appointment but at this point I was all in. It was time to get my life back!!
The implant itself was quick and relatively painless. The doctor did it right in his office in about 30 minutes. The scar is about 2cm long. I will post pictures if I can. So I had the implant and could finally take a deep breath... However, I will admit that I wanted to know how effective it was at blocking the opiates. In the past I had been able to take a quarter of a Suboxone in the morning and do a few bags of heroin in the evening and I was fine.... A few days after the implant, I used, and felt absolutely nothing. Blocked 100%. That was officially the last time I put anything toxic into my body. I literally won't even drink soda anymore. I need to try to get back all those years I shaved off my life. I'm only 30.
During the implant I had good days and not so good days. I only supplemented with Suboxone for a few days and then let my body do the rest by adjusting on its own. The first two months were up and down but with the right therapy and a tool bag full of coping skills, you just push through it. Because you have to! Because you're ALIVE. Eventually, around the end of the 2nd month the medication in me leveled off and I began to feel better. The only significant issue that I EVER had with the implant was that the mornings(about 50% of them some weeks) were a little difficult. But in comparison to having to wake up feeling like death and waiting anxiously for a Suboxone to kick in, it was really just a matter of getting up and getting my blood flowing. Other than that, I literally didn't even know it was there and I was able to wake up, roll over, give a good stretch and start the day that I WANTED to.
I have heard that some people go BACK ON subs after the implant. I feel this is counterproductive if you really want to maintain sobriety but it's totally your choice and doctors seem to support whatever decision you make. I am currently 100% sober a month after having the implant removed. The first two weeks after the removal were a little rough. I did experience withdrawal. It took a lot of will power but I had come so far. The first 3 days were sweats and that whole deal, then at about a week I had insomnia and requested sleep medication because the other symptoms we're bareable but only if I got a few hours of sleep to help me recharge. I did a lot of meditation, yoga and made many calls to my support system in order to stay sane but I can honestly say that throughout the past 8 months I have done more living than I ever have before. By the time I showed up to my removal appointment, I had learned a new way to live and I am so grateful for this treatment. I truly believe it has given me a second chance at life. I never thought I could survive without Suboxone but look at me now. I do not plan on having another implant although it was offered to me... But that's just a personal decision that you sort of make over time. If it's affordable and you want an extra 6 to 7 months to become stronger then that's totally up to you. But for me it just wasn't the right decision.

Also, I had zero cravings aside from the first day that I experimented. Once I knew there was no getting high, the burden was lifted. Why crave something that doesnt give off your desired effect? Something in the brain changes when your drug of choice is no longer a threat to you... It's hard to explain the physiological aspect because I'm not super educated on the brain but something changed in me.

Hope to hear from you and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that your insurance will cover this. I believe I paid 5500 which was for the implant and doctors visits so it is definitely expensive but I'd sell my car or my house to do it again if I had to.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:07 am 
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One thing I forgot though... I wasn't told this until the day of the removal but the doctor has to make a completely separate, slightly larger incision to remove the implants. The removal process took about and hour because they are the same color as fatty tissue so it makes it difficult for the doc to remove sometimes. Especially if they move, which only one of the four did, slightly. It was a crazy uncomfortable experience but still something I'd do again if I had to.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:10 am 
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And I can't post the pictures but if you'd like to see both incisions I can email them to you.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 8:41 pm 
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Brit,
Thanks so much for sharing your story. I really appreciate it. I am so, so glad that the Probuphine worked so well for you. It sounds like it might have been just what you needed at the time. Do you do any type of recovery program now, like NA, SMART, other support groups or addiction counseling? I'm just wondering because I know that once most people who taper off/stop medication assissted therapy need lots of support and tools to help. You said it's been about a month off of Probuphine? Do you still feel any physical/psychological withdrawal symptoms? Did it feel like the medication started "running out" during the last few weeks or was it pretty stable?

My situation is a little different than yours. Mainly I am very happy taking buprenorphine. I take it primarily for opiate use disorder but also for chronic pain and it has greatly improved and stabilized my mood. So, I consider myself "clean" and "sober" while on buprenorphine and I plan on taking it indefinitely, possibly forever. That is one reason I wonder about the implant- as of now you can only get it placed in one arm for6 months and then the other arm for 6 months- totaling a year. But then what? I don't want to keep getting cut up all over my body to get implants. My doctor said he hopes by then that a shot will be available, but if that is the case then why not just wait? I'm just thinking out loud here . . .

So, I'm going to pursue the option right now- finding out if insurance will pay for it, but I'm not sure if I want it or not. I like the idea of the medication just being there without me thinking about it, the constant levels which may help with pain, not having to worry about strips or pharmacists, or stockpiling, not even thinking about it. But I hate the idea of something implanted in my arm, even a minor surgical procedure, I worry that it won't be enough buprenorphine, what will I do after 6 months or 1 year, etc. Can people seethe implant under the skin if you point it out to them? Did you have any problems using that arm for anything?

Again, thanks Brit. Congrats on your success and good luck with continued sobriety!

Tragicom

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 8:39 am 
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Hi there. I honestly don't feel that the implant would be right for you if you're planning on staying on bupe indefinitely. You're correct when you say that you'd be sliced and diced. I was upset with the fact that I needed a separate incision for he removal. Maybe I was a little naive but I thought he could just go in right where he did during the insertion. Oh well...

So I my withdrawal went a little something like this... Two days post removal I started with the sweats, restless legs, vomiting(for the first time ever during a detox though I feel it was due to all the benedryl I was taking to try to sleep). These symptoms along with loss of appetite ocurred for at least 2 weeks. The insomnia is what almost did me in though. It was very hard to get up and work my program and live life in the right frame of mind when you're running on no sleep. But with a little(and I mean very little) medication from my doctor, my sleep has recently been 6+ hours at night. Other than that I feel pretty good, I would say I'm feeling a little down occasionally but I'm working closely with my doctor in regards to that.

I did feel like the last 3 weeks or so of he treatment that the medication may have been decreasing. But I was still able to function and once I got my blood moving in the morning and had my coffee, I was fine.

You can't see the implant, only a 1-2 cm scar. And no one ever noticed it. I use Mederma on it daily and it's faded pretty nicely.

Thanks so much and I wish you all the best!! Hopefully you find something that works for you!!

Brit


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:57 pm 
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Hi Brit,

Are you having difficulty posting pictures on our site? It really is no problem to do it. Just click on the Img button up top here and follow instructions. If you still cannot make it work, PM me and we'll work it out.

Or maybe it's just too gross to post. Some things are better left unseen.

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