MILL VALLEY (CBS SF) — The synthetic opiate Buprenorphine is marketed under several brand names, including Suboxone.

Reportedly the drug Andrew Kornfeld had on hand when he traveled to convince Prince to enroll in his father Dr. Howard Kornfeld’s Recovery Without Walls program, it is used to treat people with opioid addiction and basically wean them off the narcotics.

It produces similar effects to those drugs and works to prevent withdrawal symptoms.

If you are addicted to heroin or some other kind of opiate, the drug Suboxone can be a literal life saver.

“If you have diabetes you need insulin. If you have high blood pressure, you need medicine,” said Dr. Ako Jacintho of HealthRight 360. “It treats chronic illness.”

Patients are still addicted, but to a much safer drug. It satisfies those horrible cravings without getting you high.

Dr. Jacintho helps addicts get off their drugs using Suboxone. The drug is like methadone, but considered by many to be better with a lower risk of addiction.

The risk of killing yourself from an overdose is also reduced.

“We don’t see this as a medicine that someone is abusing,” said Jacintho. “We don’t see anyone coming to my office seeking Buprenorphine. They are coming to my office just like those with diabetes and high blood pressure.”

But at Full Circle Recovery in San Anselmo, you won’t find anyone being treated with the drug. Councilor Kristine Wandzilak, a former addict, is among the many in the field who think Suboxone can be a scam.

“It’s appealing to an addict. Doctors are making a lot of money subscribing Suboxone long term,” said Wandsilak.

A doctors visit just to get a prescription can run hundreds of dollars. And in the recovery field, there is a school of thought that getting an addict hooked on one drug instead of another is not recovery.

“Long term use creates another cycle of addiction. Psychologically being attached to a doctor constantly, explained Wandsilak. Imagine individuals can’t get on a plane, and they can’t plan trips. They are attached to, still, that cycle of being, you know, you need to be on something.”

Full Circle Recovery is a sober living community with the aim of having patients get clean and stay clean. Success rates for both approaches are hard to measure. Unfortunately, it’s not good in either.

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