Starting ADHD Medications while taking Suboxone®
As people embark on the journey of healing during treatment for opioid use disorder, many will seek therapy to discuss issues they may be experiencing currently, or in their past, that may have lead them towards addiction. For some, this may also involve the expertise of a psychiatrist who is able to diagnose potential mental illness and prescribe medication to treat any underlying conditions. For those contemplating treatment or currently in MAT taking Suboxone®, the idea of starting medication to treat comorbidity can be confusing. It is important to know how medicines like Suboxone® will interact with other psychotropic drugs that are used to treat mental illness.
It is common for those with opioid use disorder also to be suffering from some form of mental illness, making their situation a “dual diagnosis” or “comorbidity,” where they need treatment for more than one chronic condition. Patients committed to their treatment and recovery will strive to manage both their substance use disorder and any mental illness while working on their health to ensure long-lasting recovery with a lessened risk of relapse. The potential for relapse is always a concern when mental health is not addressed during the early treatment phase.
Does Suboxone® interact with ADHD medications?
Many patients with opioid use disorder suffer from untreated ADHD and anxiety, leading to a psychiatric diagnosis requiring medication to treat those conditions. When prescription Adderall® and Suboxone® are taken together, the two medications pose a complicated risk for some patients, as many prescription medications to treat ADHD are controlled substances and addictive substances. However, patients with untreated ADHD will face issues that can impair their progress in recovery, and deserve to have their comorbidity treated as a chronic condition. Chemically, Adderall® and Suboxone® do not have any inherent negative interactions together when taken as prescribed. Still, the potential for misuse is an issue both patients and medical providers are attempting to address.
Treating ADHD while in MAT
Patients who are enrolled in treatment that are diagnosed with untreated ADHD would benefit from medications used to treat the condition; however, they will have to discuss the potential of medication misuse with their provider. During the early phases of treatment, a psychiatrist may opt to use a non-stimulant route to see how the patient responds, avoiding the issue of taking fast-acting stimulants like Adderall, which carry a high risk of addiction and misuse. If the non-stimulant medications are ineffective, providers can also explore the option of long-acting stimulant drugs with a limited number of pills to prevent misuse. It is also helpful if the patient has a custodian or appointed loved one who can help monitor and dispense medication as needed.
Adults with opioid use disorder who are working towards their recovery goals may find themselves with a comorbid diagnosis like ADHD, which will require the use of stimulant medication to treat. Being aware of the use of Adderall® and Suboxone® for such patients can help many people who are contemplating treatment or are reluctant to treat potential mental illness. People with this dual diagnosis can treat both opioid use disorder and ADHD at the same time, and effectively with the use of the proper medications.