Suboxone: The Hottest Drug In American Prisons

I have a feeling that very few people outside drug addiction recovery programs and prisons have ever heard of Suboxone, let alone the fact that it is sweeping through the U.S. prison system at epidemic rates. Abby Goodnough and Katie Zezima report for the New York Times:

WINDHAM, Me. — Mike Barrett, a corrections officer, ripped open an envelope in the mail room at the Maine Correctional Center here and eyed something suspicious: a Father’s Day card, sent a month early. He carefully felt the card and slit it open, looking for a substance that has made mail call here a different experience of late.

Mr. Barrett and other prison officials nationwide are searching their facilities, mail and visitors for Suboxone, a drug used as a treatment for opiate addiction that has become coveted as contraband.

Suboxone pills. Photo: Supertheman (CC)

Suboxone pills. Photo: Supertheman (CC)

Innovative smugglers have turned crushed Suboxone pills into a paste and spread it under stamps or over children’s artwork, including pages from a princess coloring book found in a New Jersey jail.

The drug also comes in thin strips, which dissolve under the tongue, that smugglers have tucked behind envelope seams and stamps.

“It’s become a crisis in here, to be honest with you,” said Maj. Francine Breton, administrator of the Cumberland County Jail in Portland, Me. “It’s the drug of choice right now.”

Law enforcement officials say that Suboxone, which is prescribed to treat addiction to heroin and powerful painkillers like oxycodone, has become a drug of abuse in its own right, resulting in prison smuggling efforts from New Mexico to Maine. Addicts buy it on the street when they cannot find or afford their drug of choice, to stave off the sickness that comes with withdrawal. But some people are also taking it for the high they say it provides…

[continues in the New York Times]

, , ,

  • Mary

    Perhaps if we stopped locking up sick addicts this type of behavior would be less common…

  • Mary

    Perhaps if we stopped locking up sick addicts this type of behavior would be less common…

    • SF2K01

      To be fair, there are plenty of people who are not sick addicts or hardened criminals when they enter the system, but they are when they get let out. Incarceration hasn’t been doing as good a job of rehabilitating as it has given criminals connections they wouldn’t have otherwise had.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Carlospanzram Carlos Panzram

    I live in the Rust Belt and Subs’ (suboxone), are a pretty huge deal around here. They are an expensive habit, but because they are so heavy a lot of pill junkies can make one strip last for a couple of days. They are also HUGE with the military, because the military does not test for them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Carlospanzram Carlos Panzram

    I live in the Rust Belt and Subs’ (suboxone), are a pretty huge deal around here. They are an expensive habit, but because they are so heavy a lot of pill junkies can make one strip last for a couple of days. They are also HUGE with the military, because the military does not test for them.

    • Mr. Coffee

      Military doesn’t test for shrooms either, usually.

  • Mr. Coffee

    Military doesn’t test for shrooms either, usually.

  • SF2K01

    How do prisoners making 10 cents an hour afford drugs like this?

  • Anonymous

    How do prisoners making 10 cents an hour afford drugs like this?

  • Anonymous

    To be fair, there are plenty of people who are not sick addicts or hardened criminals when they enter the system, but they are when they get let out. Incarceration hasn’t been doing as good a job of rehabilitating as it has given criminals connections they wouldn’t have otherwise had.

  • Bawarner

    How common is suboxone in california prisons?
    http://suboxoneinformation.org/

  • Bawarner

    How common is suboxone in california prisons?
    http://suboxoneinformation.org/

  • Pegs9357

    I took suboxone for several months and never felt anything close to a buzz…or nod as it were.  I’m not understanding the abuse part of it.  But it is a partial opiate and I guess people will abuse anything.  I did. 

    This is such a strange drug; very little research on it…

  • Pegs9357

    I took suboxone for several months and never felt anything close to a buzz…or nod as it were.  I’m not understanding the abuse part of it.  But it is a partial opiate and I guess people will abuse anything.  I did. 

    This is such a strange drug; very little research on it…

  • Beckola

    Disagree. I worked in a Opioid Agonist Program as a student placement, with addicted persons, and it was a Suboxone Treatment program. Suboxone has Buprenorphine and Naloxone in it. It is impossible to get high off of this therapy drug. The Buprenorphine attaches to the opiate receptors in the brain, thus killing off any cravings or withdrawals when being treated for opioid dependency. That is ALL it does, it does NOT create a high, no matter if you crush it, snort it, smoke it, ingect it, chew it, or swallow it. In fact, you might just put yourself into withdrawals, because your body isnt receiving enough of the medication. That is where Naloxone comes it. When taken properly (sublingually) the Naloxone prevents any other drugs from washing the Buprenorphine off of the receptor sites, as well as prevents the body from absorbing the entire dose when taken any other way. Maybe they are feeling “high on life” because they are no longer in withdrawals, and for the time being, their cravings subsided, but there is absolutely NO Euphoric effects when one misuses this drug.

  • Beckola

    Disagree. I worked in a Opioid Agonist Program as a student placement, with addicted persons, and it was a Suboxone Treatment program. Suboxone has Buprenorphine and Naloxone in it. It is impossible to get high off of this therapy drug. The Buprenorphine attaches to the opiate receptors in the brain, thus killing off any cravings or withdrawals when being treated for opioid dependency. That is ALL it does, it does NOT create a high, no matter if you crush it, snort it, smoke it, ingect it, chew it, or swallow it. In fact, you might just put yourself into withdrawals, because your body isnt receiving enough of the medication. That is where Naloxone comes it. When taken properly (sublingually) the Naloxone prevents any other drugs from washing the Buprenorphine off of the receptor sites, as well as prevents the body from absorbing the entire dose when taken any other way. Maybe they are feeling “high on life” because they are no longer in withdrawals, and for the time being, their cravings subsided, but there is absolutely NO Euphoric effects when one misuses this drug.

  • http://www.buprenorphineabuse.com Buprenorphine Abuse

    I have a feeling that very few people outside drug addiction recovery programs and prisons have ever heard of Suboxone, let alone the fact that it is ..

  • http://www.buprenorphineabuse.com Buprenorphine Abuse

    I have a feeling that very few people outside drug addiction recovery programs and prisons have ever heard of Suboxone, let alone the fact that it is ..