"There are many different drug options available," said Dr. Adam Bisaga, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and an addiction psychiatrist with the New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York City.
"Of course, as always with powerful medications, they can have side effects and be misused," Bisaga said. Potential side effects of Suboxone include drowsiness, insomnia, stomach pain, and -- in extreme cases -- breathing problems or allergic reaction.
"But under controlled conditions, which is how [these drugs] are usually given, they can allow these patients to have a much better quality of life," Bisaga said.
Dr. Adam Rubinstein, an instructor in medicine at Rush Medical College and the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine, said it is not unusual to treat a prescription painkiller addiction with another prescription medication.
"A person living with the disease may need medication-assisted treatment to successfully manage his or her condition, similar to other chronic diseases like diabetes and asthma," Rubinstein said.
Unfortunately, he said, only about 40 percent of adult patients who could benefit are even aware that such drug treatments for addiction are available.
The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more on treating opiate addiction.
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