Suboxone is an interesting substance. Just like many other drugs, it has its advantages and disadvantages; its benefits and dangers. But suboxone is one of those few medications that can cause the very thing that it seeks to cure.
On this article, we will learn more about suboxone and the things it can do. Understanding how it works can go a long way in helping us avoid its drawbacks and side effects. Let’s take a closer look at this fascinating combination drug.
What is Suboxone?
Suboxone is made up of two substances: buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a mild opiate analgesic. It also acts as an opioid agonist. In the past, this was used to manage mild to moderate levels of pain. Buprenorphine has been available in the market since 1985.
On the other hand, naloxone is an opiate antagonist that is mainly used to reverse or eliminate the effects of opiates within a person’s body.
What Does it Do: Medical Uses
As a combination drug of buprenorphine and naloxone, suboxone contains the effects of both substances. In 2002, suboxone started being marketed for the treatment of narcotic addiction.
Nowadays, doctors are allowed to prescribe the drug to patients who are suffering from opiate addiction. This makes suboxone somewhat similar to methadone. The goal of both medications is to decrease the person’s cravings and limit their withdrawal symptoms.
Suboxone is used in medical detox to slowly lower a person’s opiate intake so that their withdrawal symptoms can be managed more safely. Their levels will be monitored and their intake will be gradually reduced until the person is no longer physically dependent.
Addiction is then addressed with the help of various techniques like behavioral therapy and counseling. Using these methods in conjunction with medications like suboxone is known to yield better results.
Suboxone is a depressant that typically comes as a sublingual strip instead of the usual pill form. It is meant to be dissolved under the tongue discreetly and without water to wash it down. Effects can last for up to 3 days.
Misuse and Recreational Abuse
As a long-acting opioid, its risk of negative effects is lower. Unlike methadone and other drugs used for managing opiate addiction, suboxone is less likely to cause breathing problems. However, we should remember that even though the risk is smaller, the risk is there.
If a person takes other substances like benzodiazepines and alcohol alongside suboxone, this risk increases dramatically. Taking these at once may lead to breathing problems and even death.
Still, people abuse suboxone by taking large doses because of the euphoric high that it produces. This feel-good sensation can last for around 8 hours, making the person feel calm and relaxed for the entire duration. This is what makes the drug addictive.
And that’s what makes it ironic: a drug that can help you with addiction can also cause addiction.
As a prescription drug, people are more likely to abuse suboxone than illegal drugs like heroin, simply because it is more accessible. People who are already abusing narcotics may abuse suboxone once their doctor prescribes it to them. They may be unaware that the drug is also addictive and habit-forming.
They are generally unaware of the various side effects caused by suboxone abuse, including: sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and respiratory depression.
How Does It Make You Feel?
Individuals who are struggling with addiction may try to abuse suboxone because they miss the euphoric high provided by opiates. The risk of getting addicted to suboxone is admittedly lower, but it is possible to get high on this drug.
In fact, it has gained some popularity among inmates who have it smuggled into their prison cells by embedding suboxone into coloring pages and other similar things.
Suboxone can create a similar euphoric sensation when taken in large doses. Just like other opioids, it can relax the user and give them a sense of well-being. Suboxone is also being sold illegally in the streets.
Addiction and Withdrawal
Suboxone can lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Addiction means that the person can no longer stop taking the drug even when it’s already causing them health problems.
Although not as potent as other substances, suboxone can still cause long term damage if abused or taken recreationally. It may cause anxiety, isolation, confusion, disorientation, and decreased pain tolerance. Addicted individuals may also struggle in social situations, and lose interest over hobbies and activities they used to enjoy.
Their relationships may break down, as they begin to isolate themselves from family members, friends, and co-workers. The addicted person may even start prioritizing the drug over everything else.
And because suboxone contains an opioid, it can lead to dependence. This means that the body will no longer be able to function properly without the drug, because it has adapted to suboxone’s presence. This often starts out as simple tolerance, wherein the person starts taking more and more of the drug to get the same effects. But physical dependence always causes harmful withdrawal symptoms every time the person tries to quit. This makes suboxone much more difficult to quit than you might think.
Withdrawal symptoms can last up to a week and may include flu-like effects.
How Are Suboxone and Subutex Different?
What sets suboxone and subutex apart is that the former has another active ingredient called naloxone; the latter does not.
Buprenorphine may be a partial opioid agonist, but it is still technically an opioid. So in order to prevent the possibility of abuse, naloxone is added in order to create the combination drug suboxone. This substance, naloxone, is an opioid antagonist. This means it can help prevent people from abusing the medication.
For example, if you are high on heroin and you took naloxone, you will suddenly enter a state of withdrawal. This is called a crash.
Subutex may have a decreased abuse potential compared to other opioids, but suboxone takes this even further. The decreased risk allows doctors to prescribe suboxone more frequently as a take-home medication.
Subutex is more commonly used under controlled environments, while suboxone is for those who are not at risk of abusing their medication.
Suboxone Addiction Treatment
It is possible to get over suboxone addiction, but the best thing is to avoid it in the first place. If you know someone who is abusing suboxone or any other opioid, early intervention is key. Treating suboxone addiction consists of detox and counseling: it’s the perfect combination when done right.
If the patient was prescribed with suboxone and ended up getting addicted, then perhaps inpatient rehab is best for them. This way, their drug intake can be monitored and controlled.
Recovery may take a while, but it’s always worth it to get sober. Look for an addiction treatment facility near you today!