What You Need to Know about Suboxone Abuse
Last Updated on
What is Suboxone Abuse and why should I be concerned?
Suboxone is a medication approved by the FDA to treat addiction to opiates such as heroin or morphine, or prescription pain meds like hydrocodone or oxycodone. It is used sublingually (by dissolving under the tongue).
The primary ingredient in Suboxone is buprenorphine, which attaches to the same receptors in the brain as other opioid substances, thus reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms for people who are kicking the opioid habit. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), buprenorphine is helpful in reducing opioid use because the effects aren’t as dangerous or powerful as other opiates.
The secondary active ingredient in Suboxone is naloxone, which belongs to a class of drugs known as opioid antagonists. Naloxone has no effect when Suboxone is used properly because it is not activated when taken sublingually. However, if a patient decides to inject Suboxone instead of using the medication sublingually, the Naloxone will kick in and cause very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. In other words, Naloxone basically reverses the effects of opioid drugs.
Experts at Cornell University’s Weill Cornell Medical College note that Suboxone is a well-researched treatment that acts as a safer substitute for heroin or other opiates, which provides for a more comfortable recovery.
What are problems associated with Suboxone? Is Suboxone addictive?
Most experts agree that Suboxone holds great promise for the treatment of opiate addiction. However, it isn’t without risk and may cause unpleasant side effects such as dizziness, headaches, confusion, stomach pain, nausea, sleep problems, and liver damage.
Although the medication is intended for the treatment of addiction, some people purchase the drug illegally or use it against doctor’s orders in an attempt to get high. Tolerance can develop quickly and users discover they need to ramp up the dose to get the same effects. In some cases, even people who use the drug properly find that getting off Suboxone isn’t easy. Instead of getting well, Suboxone can present the same problems as any other drug addiction – or worse.
Part of the difficulty is that Suboxone sticks tight to the brain’s opiate receptors, which means it takes longer to kick the habit. For most patients, a slow, gradual tapering is the best way to stop using Suboxone. Withdrawal symptoms are much like that of any other opiates and may include tremors, anxiety, fever, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, runny nose, muscle pain, and insomnia.
Adding to the problem is the fact that many physicians aren’t knowledgeable about prescribing Suboxone. Although medical providers must be certified to prescribe the drug, certification requires the only completion of a short, online class. Although most physicians are conscientious when it comes to prescribing drugs, some are eager to prescribe the drug to cash-paying clients who are desperate for a solution for their drug habit. Physicians should never prescribe Suboxone without knowing a patient’s complete drug history and should ensure the drug is used to complement addiction treatment or rehab.
combinations of high doses can result in severe respiratory distress. Be sure to tell your physician about all your medications, advises the Mississippi Division of Medicaid. Never take Suboxone if you are pregnant.
Living with a Suboxone Addict: How to Help
Suboxone is approved only for the treatment of addiction and should be used only in conjunction with an effective treatment program that includes addiction counseling and regular drug monitoring.
The drug should only be used sublingually. If your friend or loved one is taking doses larger than prescribed, chewing the pills, crushing the pills and snorting the powder or mixing the powder with water and injecting the solution, it’s obvious that the person is abusing the drug and needs help as soon as possible.
Recovery from a Suboxone addiction generally requires medically supervised detox in a skilled treatment or rehab center as the drug is gradually tapered, along with skilled counseling and group therapy. Most treatment centers include family therapy as part of a comprehensive treatment program.
Hawaii Island Recovery
At Hawaii Island Recovery, we can help you recover from an addiction to Suboxone or other opiate drugs in a peaceful, nurturing environment. We are ready to help! Give us a call at (866) 491-8009 for more details about our comprehensive treatment program.