Which doctors can prescribe Suboxone?
In this country, it’s been illegal for doctors to prescribe opioids to treat opioid addiction, unless they do so in an opioid treatment center that has special permission from state and federal authorities. However, in 2000, a law was passed that allowed physicians to apply for a waiver, or special permission, to use FDA approved opioids such as Suboxone in the treatment of opioid addiction from their offices (Ex. Suboxone can now be prescribed as an oxycontin addiction medication by a certified doctor).
Only doctors who have a special DEA license can prescribe Suboxone . These doctors are assigned a special DEA number, called an “X” number, to be used only for Suboxone prescription written to treat opioid addiction. Can Suboxone be abused? Yes. Suboxone is a Schedule III drug, meaning that the DEA rates the abuse and diversion potential for Suboxone relatively high.
Doctors who want to treat opioid addicts with medication have to prove that they have the knowledge and training to prescribe safely. They have to take an eight hour training course about the nature of opioid addiction, the pharmacology of buprenorphine (the main ingredient in Suboxone), and how to prescribe it safely. Or, if the doctor is already certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, or the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatrists, they can be considered for an “X” number as well. Many Suboxone doctors are both certified by one of these organizations and took the eight hour course.
What does it cost to see a Suboxone doctor?
You’ll have to call the doctor’s offices for prices, since they vary widely depending on the area of the country, and what services are provided at the doctor’s office. For example, the initial visit may include a complete medical and drug history, a physical exam, and blood and urine tests. The doctor may want to start the medication in her office, or may allow you to start the medication at home. A session with a drug addiction counselor may be required as part of the visit. Depending on what services you get at the doctor’s office, prices run anywhere from several hundred dollars to several thousand. So when you call to get prices, be sure to ask what is included. Specifically, ask if it includes counseling and the Suboxone medication, or if both will additional expenses.
For now, it’s usually more expensive, at least initially, to be on buprenorphine (Suboxone) than to enter treatment at a methadone clinic. Hopefully that will change in the future, since buprenorphine is a safer drug than methadone, though it isn’t strong enough for every opioid addict.
How can I find a Suboxone doctor?
The best way is to look at the government’s website listing all buprenorphine (Suboxone) doctors. The drug manufacturer of Suboxone, Reckitt Benckiser, also has a handy website at suboxone [dot] com.
Photo credit: Tulane publications