Suboxone - What it is, What it Does, And How it is Used

In 2013, various pharmacists in the U.S sold suboxone worth $1.55billion, according to The New York Times. The medication recorded more sales than Adderall and Viagra. The New York Times named it as the "blockbuster medication." It is a safe substitute for methadone in treating opioid abuse.

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a drug comprising two different drugs, buprenorphine, and naloxone. Buprenorphine is an opioid agonist which provides low quantities of opioid doses to patients who are addicted to strong opioids. It enables a patient to gradually overcome their opioid addiction while reducing various withdrawal symptoms which they may experience in the process.

How Does Suboxone Function?

The National Advocates of Buprenorphine Treatment states that a standard agonist usually activates the brain's receptors. Heroin is a potent opioid agonist. When a person uses it, it triggers the receptors causing a variety of side effects. Prolonged use of the drug may lead to severe addiction.

According to The Journal Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, buprenorphine triggers a low intrinsic reaction. Since it partially triggers a user's brain's receptors, its side effects are mild compared to those of full agonists including heroin. Also, its extended use doesn't lead to an addiction. Such qualities make it suitable for treating opioid and heroin abuse.

Also, Suboxone contains naloxone. It is a complete opioid antagonist. A typical agonist activates opioid receptors while an antagonist shuts them down hence preventing the agonist from triggering the receptors. Often, an antagonist reverses the side effects that an opioid agonist causes in an individual's system. It intercepts signals which brain receptors send to your nervous system.

Naloxone shuts down a patient's opioid receptors and signals in their system. It may cause specific withdrawal symptoms to a person who is currently using an opioid such as irritability and agitation, insomnia, mood swings, diarrhea, muscle cramping and vomiting. If you are a chronic addict of full opioid agonists, you are prone to experiencing fatal respiratory failure and seizures.

If a therapist administers naloxone to a patient without adding an extra compound, it may cause adverse health effects; therefore, we usually integrate it with buprenorphine to create suboxone. The combination helps opioid patients to get off strong narcotics slowly.

In 2008, the Journal of the American Medical Association conducted a clinical trial of long-term usage of suboxone in treating opioid addiction. The study involved 154 young adults. The association discovered that suboxone usage caused significant improvements in the patients' dependence. Its lead investigator recorded a drastic reduction in the use of various drugs including opioids. Also, it enabled patients to have higher retention of several treatment concepts. The researchers randomly allocated the participants in groups which had long-term use of suboxone. In 2013, the American Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) noted that about 9.3 million buprenorphine subscriptions, under suboxone, were recorded in 2012.

Suboxone has its side effects. Its effectiveness in rehabilitation heroin addicts can cause severe addiction. Many people are chronically addicted to it. They need unique psychological and pharmacological treatment to manage their addiction.

Can You Easily Access Suboxone in America?

In the past, physicians in the U.S couldn't prescribe a narcotic to opioid patients. After the enactment of the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000, opioid-dependent patients are currently required to seek treatment from registered clinics. Suboxone is a distinct medication that is useful in offering opioid addiction treatment. It has dramatically replaced methadone as doctors can quickly prescribe it. Limited specialized drug addiction centers customarily specify methadone.

Some therapists are planning to advocate for the removal of suboxone in the emergency department (ED). Recent studies show that ED-initiated suboxone is highly effective in treating opioid patients. It suits people who need long-term addiction treatment.

Access to suboxone is limited since different insurers have varying authorization requirements. They use prior authorization to control particular drugs. One needs to get their approval before their insurance pays for medication. At times, the approval time may extend hence preventing you from starting your addiction treatment on time.

Also, the authorization process dramatically impacts adherence. You need to send an application after every few months. It may cause a lapse in your treatment program and increase your withdrawal symptoms as you wait for it.

Why Do Doctors Use Opioids When Treating Opioid Addiction?

One may wonder why a doctor may choose to give an individual who is chronically addicted to a particular substance, a similar compound to manage their addiction. Opiate dependence is too sturdy and long-lasting. It's necessary slowly treat a patient's addiction by reducing the craving to the extent that they are strong enough to deal with their condition.

PsychCentral offers a clear explanation that opioid addicts can stop the addiction on their own. Of those who succeed in overcoming opioid abuse, only 25% can remain sober for a year without having a drug relapse. Most drug patients require regular counseling, support, and therapy to overcome their addiction. They also need specific medication during the recovery process especially if they usually use opioids.

Most opioid drugs such as methadone, naltrexone, and suboxone help in minimizing withdrawal effects. Also, they reduce a person's craving for opioid medications. Suboxone performs well in addressing such addictions.

In 2014, Kentucky's Courier Journal documented a person who after taking an overdose of OxyContin, an opioid pain reliever received a suboxone prescription. Instead of taking the medication orally or allowing the filmstrips to dissolve in their mouth slowly, the patient got addicted to suboxone. Instead, they put the suboxone filmstrips in a glass of water and injected the solution into their veins. The treatment method doesn't undergo normal digestion which preserves naloxone's opioid antagonist qualities.

Once naloxone gets into the bloodstream, it becomes active. Instead of a patient consuming a drug which is a partial opioid and agonist and a half opioid antagonist, they take two opioid agonists. Some people usually do it to get quick relief from persistent physical distress. Besides, some do it to get intoxicated by a legitimate compound. However, many of them aren't aware of the side effects that extended suboxone use can cause.

Can Suboxone Use Result to Death?

In the New York Times, there is a story of a young man shortly after indulging in suboxone use for recreational purpose with a friend. Previous reports reveal that suboxone is the leading drug that has killed 420 people since 2003. The National Pain Report indicated that over 30,000 room visits in 2010 occurred due to suboxone abuse. Of these, over 50% were recreational-related.

Signs of Suboxone Abuse

In most scenarios, death is the long-term effect of persistent suboxone abuse. However, there are other psychological and physical effects which may show that one is addicted to suboxone. Information from the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety indicates that chronic addiction to suboxone may cause respiratory depression. 

Furthermore, some toxicological reviews suggest that an overdose of buprenorphine leads to fatality due to asphyxiation. Recent research also indicates that although suboxone is a safe addiction treatment drug compared to methadone, its improper use can break down your respiratory system.

Here are other signs of suboxone abuse you need to know:

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Wild mood swings

How is Suboxone Addiction Treated?

Most medical schools teach their intern students to begin with detoxification when treating opioid abuse. It's vital to offer a supervised and controlled withdrawal of a patient from suboxone. This step often triggers some withdrawal symptoms; therefore, it's critical to perform it in a registered treatment facility. Skilled healthcare professionals also need to be present. If a person tries to detoxify themselves at home, they may relapse into severe drug use when they are no longer able to handle painful withdrawal symptoms.

Also, doctors may have to administer addiction treatment drugs to a patient to facilitate their recovery. It's a challenging ordeal as the addict's distress may be due to prescription medication. Some drug abuse institutes recommend using naltrexone to address prescription opioid misuse. It inhibits the brain's opiate receptors.

Initially, most rehabilitation centers used naltrexone (Vivitrol) to treat alcohol addiction. The Food and Drug Administration approved it to control opioid abuse. Medications including Vivitrol are effective addiction treatment drugs. A detoxification's withdrawal symptoms usually dissipate within a week.

Therapy is critical in treating drug addiction. It enables people to transform their lives after being addicted to suboxone for long. They are also able to determine precise factors which led to their addiction. Moreover, therapy sessions enable one to understand various ways that they can lead healthy lives without relapsing into drug abuse.

Often, it's hard for one not to relapse into drug abuse while interacting with their family and friends. You may have some loved ones who still use suboxone. They may lure you back into the habit.

Suboxone is among the most commonly misused prescription drugs globally. Instead of using it to treat their opioid addiction, some people use it as a stimulant. However, it's possible for you to recover from a suboxone addiction. You need to enroll for an addiction treatment program at a registered rehabilitation facility. Moreover, we offer a variety of payment plans to our customers.