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Getting Suboxone Treatment in Florida

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Are you having trouble getting Suboxone treatment in Florida?

Florida has a lot of addiction treatment centers. The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, which collects and analyzes data from other organizations, estimates that there are 847 drug rehab treatment facilities in the state of Florida. So you might think that it might be easy to find evidence-based, medication-assisted treatment like Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) there. But for many Floridians, it’s not that simple.

Here are a few of the barriers people run into when seeking buprenorphine treatment for opioid use disorder in Florida, and some strategies to help you overcome them to get the Suboxone treatment you deserve.

Barrier 1: No facilities near you will prescribe Suboxone.

Despite the prevalence of treatment facilities, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that only 41.9% offer medication-assisted treatment at all. That’s significantly less than half. 58.1%of those centers don’t offer any of the FDA-approved medications that treat opioid use disorder (OUD).

And that’s when there are facilities near you. Treatment centers tend to be clustered in more urban and affluent areas. Rural and lower-income parts of Florida often don’t have any treatment centers around.

Strategy: Consider telehealth.

In a telehealth treatment program for OUD, you attend online appointments via video conferencing. This means that you can access evidence-based care no matter where you live in the state, from the Keys to the Panhandle.

Every telehealth company is different, so I can’t describe what each of them is like. But I can tell you what Workit Health’s telehealth OUD program is like—100% online, including virtual recovery group meetings, online therapeutic courses, in-app submission of urine drug screens, and Suboxone being e-prescribed to your local clinic (as appropriate). And we are available in Florida. When we first began offering telehealth OUD treatment, Workit Health was unique, but telehealth has grown much more common and now there are many providers. Evidence shows that it is just as effective as in-person treatment.

Barrier 2: The doctors who do prescribe Suboxone are not taking new patients.

This is a problem that many people encounter when seeking any kind of behavioral health, from therapy to substance use disorder treatment. A lot of the providers who offer the kind of care that is most in demand are already full up. They’re often not taking new patients. In the case of Suboxone, the situation is getting a little bit better; before 2023, doctors had to have a special waiver to prescribe it, and they were limited by law to only prescribe to a certain number of patients. Now that the X-waiver (or DATA-waiver) is no longer required, providers are able to treat more patients. But there are still limits to their time and availability, and the state of Florida requires that their treatment include some kind of “supportive rehabilitation programs.”

Strategy: Be vocal and active in your search.
Be an active advocate for your own health. The directories TreatmentMatch.org and FindTreatment.gov might help you find a local provider. Check to see if the CORE Network (an important Florida initiative) is available in your county. Talk to your primary care doctor to see if they would be willing to prescribe Suboxone now that they no longer need a special waiver.

Advocacy may be uncomfortable at first, but it can become an important part of your recovery. You can’t possibly be the only one in your area struggling to find evidence-based Suboxone treatment, so your advocacy can help other people as well. (Side note: this kind of advocacy is how Workit Health was created. Robin and Lisa, our two co-founders, were women in recovery who decided to stop putting up wth the treatment options around them and create new ones. So they built an addiction treatment company, and now we’ve treated more than 20,000 people.)

Barrier 3: Pharmacies don’t carry buprenorphine (Suboxone or another brand).

Sadly, the barriers don’t fall away once you find a doctor and get your Suboxone prescription. Some local pharmacies may refuse to carry or dispense buprenorphine.

Strategy: Become known at a local pharmacy.

The simplest strategy is to head into your local pharmacy (especially if it’s not part of a big chain). Introduce yourself and tell the pharmacist that you’ll be needing this medication. Ask if they can begin carrying it for you. They’ll tell you if this works for them or not. If they’re able to carry it for you, sing their praises! Others in your area are probably struggling to find pharmacies that carry buprenorphine, too. Share in Facebook groups and on message boards. You’ve found a cooperative pharmacy, so let it be known.

Another option is to ask your provider for support in finding a pharmacy or in talking to the pharmacist to address their concerns. Workit Health care teams often work with our members to locate pharmacies that can and will dispense their medications as prescribed.

Barrier 4: Your family is worried that Suboxone is just a new addiction.

Many of us have families who just want us to be cured of our substance use disorder and put it behind us. When they learn that we’re in long-term treatment that includes Suboxone, they often fear that we’re merely in a new phase of addiction. They don’t realize that buprenorphine is giving our minds, bodies, and spirits a chance to heal.

Strategy: Talk to them and educate them.

Education can be vital in getting your family on board with your medication-assisted treatment. Show them the evidence—people who use FDA-approved medication to recover from OUD have better chances of success, lower risk of relapse, and lower danger of overdose. That’s why so many medical and governmental organizations recommend medication-assisted treatment for OUD.

You don’t have to argue and explain all this. You can download some statistics from the internet, and leave them for your family to read. You can also download Workit Health’s guide for families (or send your loved one a link so they can download it themselves). SAMHSA offers a guide about buprenorphine (they also have it in Spanish and in Vietnamese), and the National Institute on Drug Abuse has a fact sheet about medication to treat opioid use disorder.

After they’ve looked at the evidence, and only if you feel safe and comfortable doing so, you can have a conversation with your family about their concerns and explain the ways Suboxone protects and supports your recovery.

Barrier 5: Mutual support groups are judging your recovery.

You would think that other people with experience of substance use disorders would be super open-minded about recovery. In some cases, you would be wrong. A lot of mutual support groups (12-step and non-12-step) can be really judgy and critical of other paths to recovery. In some circles, stigma against medication is still strong.

Strategy: Try to change the group from the inside, or protect yourself by leaving.

I can’t tell you which decision is best, because it will vary based on you and your group.

If you want to stay with your group, you can just … not talk to them about Suboxone. You don’t have to be loud and proud about medication-assisted treatment if you don’t want to be. Do try to be welcoming and reasonable when other people using Suboxone join the group. Slowly, non-dramatically, the culture of the group may begin to change and become more accepting.

That said, you need to prioritize your well-being. Don’t become a martyr to changing the group. If their closed-mindedness hurts you, it’s okay to leave. In some parts of Florida there are tons of other groups to try out. There’s even a group called Medication-Assisted Recovery Anonymous that has online meetings and some in-person meetings. In other places there may not be many options. You could try to correct that by starting your own group, or you could seek out online meetings instead. Workit Health also offers online non-12-step recovery group meetings for our members.

Barrier 6: Suboxone is expensive.

Healthcare is expensive in the US. It’s a painful fact. Affording Suboxone treatment can be a barrier for many.

Strategy: Research your options.

There are some tools available to help you afford your treatment. Many treatment facilities have sliding scales, and a few are funded by the state of Florida. Finding one that has availability will take legwork and may take time.

For help getting the medication itself, try the suggestions on our post, “Suboxone Too Pricey? 7 Tips for Affording Your Prescription.” Many of these suggestions can help bring the cost of your prescription down to a more achievable level.

Kali Lux is a consumer marketing leader with a focus on healthcare and wellness. She has over a decade of experience in building and operating metrics-driven brand, demand generation, and customer experience teams. A founding member of Workit Health’s team and a person in recovery herself, she’s passionate about fighting stigma and developing strategies that allow more people access to quality treatment at the moment they’re ready for help.

Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. Workit Health, Inc. and its affiliated professional entities make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.

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