Suboxone is a pharmaceutical drug that is prescribed specifically for the treatment of opioid addictions. It comes as a combination of naloxone and buprenorphine.
Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, so it binds to the opioid receptors in the brain. This has the effect of blocking the effects that other opioids produce. One feature of naloxone is to make sure that those administered this medication cannot crush and snort it. This would lead to addiction rather than help them recover from their addictions.
Buprenorphine is a partial opioid antagonist, and it reduces the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that people experience in rehab. It is also an excellent tool for preventing people from misusing opioids. Buprenorphine is an opiate, but since it is a partial opioid antagonist, the effects it causes are not as severe as the ones that morphine and heroin cause. It has the effect of blocking full opiates from binding to the receptors in the brain.
Suboxone is widely used in drug treatment centers and has been shown to keep people addicted to opioids in treatment for more than six months so that they can complete their recovery journeys.
How Long Should Someone Take Suboxone?
Suboxone that is given in a treatment setting serves the purpose of preventing people from experiencing cravings and withdrawal symptoms due to addiction. Suboxone is classified under Schedule III of the Schedules of Controlled Substances. This means that drugs in this category have the potential to promote abuse, and they may cause the user to develop a low to moderate physical dependence. They also present a high chance of psychological dependence.
The fact that Suboxone is a controlled substance makes people wary of taking this drug to help them with their withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Although this drug is on the Schedules for Controlled Substances, it is still approved by the FDA. Therefore, a doctor can prescribe it, and a pharmacist can dispense it.
If a person stops taking Suboxone before the physician’s directions, the person is in danger of returning to opioids to alleviate their withdrawal symptoms. On the other hand, it may not be a good idea to take Suboxone for too long if it is at the expense of finding other solutions to a person’s drug addiction or dependence. When it is safe to start reducing the Suboxone, the patient’s physician will set up a schedule for this purpose.
Treatment With Suboxone
Some people believe that treatment with Suboxone means that people are trading opioids for Suboxone, and this makes some people afraid to take this drug. It can be extremely uncomfortable to undergo the withdrawal process, but administering Suboxone can make this part of the process much more comfortable for people. Otherwise, people typically have strong desires to return to their drug use when they are experiencing distressing withdrawal symptoms, which would prevent them from moving forward with their recoveries.
At Granite Recovery Center, we offer our clients medication-assisted treatment in our drug detox program. Our specialists prescribe FDA-approved medications to help our clients tolerate the withdrawal process. At the same time, individuals recovering from addiction need to regain their strength, so we provide holistic treatments for this purpose. Our therapists are also available to determine whether there is an underlying condition contributing to the substance use issues so that it may be treated.
Ultimately, Suboxone is recommended for individuals going through detox and other treatment to improve their chances of quitting opioid use for good.
What Is Dependence on Opioids?
The National Institute of Drug Use has stated that opioid dependence is a “long-term brain disease.” It comes about when someone takes opioids, which cause changes in the brain over time. When dependence occurs, the person needs to start taking more of the drug in order to experience the same effects that were experienced the first time.
When people are dependent on opioids, they experience the following:
- They continue their use of opioids even though this is causing negative consequences for them.
- They stop spending as much time with friends who are not also using opioids.
- They often miss work, and if they don’t have a job, they aren’t looking for one.
- They spend most of their time procuring, using, and recovering from their opioid use.
- They would like to quit, and they try to do so many times.
- They take more of the drug than they planned to take, and they take it for a longer period of time.
- They experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the drug, or they take other drugs to relieve these withdrawal symptoms.
What Is Opioid Addiction?
When people take opioids, the drugs cause the brain to release endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that make the body feel great. They disguise painful feelings as they increase pleasurable feelings and leave behind a strong sense of well-being. These feelings wear off, and people want them to return. This is how an addiction begins.
As time goes on, people begin to crave the drug, and this continues to occur even though the person may experience negative consequences from the use of the drug. They begin to develop a tolerance for the drug, which means that they must increase the amount of drug that they ingest because their bodies are slowing down the release of the endorphins. If they take a larger dose when this occurs, then they can experience the good feelings that they had when they first took the drug.
Once people reach the point where they are addicted to opioids, it is very dangerous for them to suddenly stop taking the medication. Withdrawal can cause adverse reactions in the body, which is why addiction specialists may use Suboxone to help a person taper off his or her use of opioids and undergo treatment.
Some people are against Suboxone because it’s possible to become dependent upon it. However, the properties of the drug make it useful to treat opioid withdrawal and cravings. Administering this drug properly under medical supervision can allow a person to safely go through detox of opioids and then be able to address the underlying cause of addiction.
At Granite Recovery Center, our medical professionals may recommend treating your opioid addiction with Suboxone. This drug is known as a “maintenance medication,” so it is prescribed for the treatment of opioid addiction. Our medical professionals might prescribe you a continuous dosage of Suboxone so that your chances of relapsing and returning to opioid usage will be significantly reduced.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse has stated that people can reduce their abuse of opioids when they receive proper treatment with Suboxone. If patients stop their use of Suboxone, then they might return to their opioid use. Therefore, many medical professionals recommend that those addicted to opioids remain on Suboxone for the duration of their treatments. This is the reason that some people believe they are being told to treat their drug addictions by becoming addicted to another drug.
Well-meaning friends and family members may pressure their loved ones to stop taking Suboxone because they are still involved in a drug addiction. These people do not understand how Suboxone works, so they might be inadvertently causing their loved ones to return to their former drug use.
Can You Become Addicted to Suboxone?
Because it is possible to develop a Suboxone addiction, the concerns described above are valid. The medical community must also consider the fact that some people enter into treatment with Suboxone as a way to obtain the drug rather than as a way to overcome addiction. If this is a person’s motive, the treatment may not work.
Can You Stop Suboxone Without Help From Your Doctor?
In most cases, physicians place their patients on Suboxone without determining an end to the prescription. As long as people remain under the care of their physicians, this is a safe thing to do. The medication allows these patients to overcome their psychological addictions to opioids and to pick up the pieces of their lives again.
If someone falls victim to the pressure that other people place on them to discontinue use of Suboxone, then they could experience unbearable withdrawal symptoms. The cravings for opioids would return, and these cravings have been known to get even stronger after Suboxone treatment. This could lead to another opioid addiction that would be even worse. For this reason, it’s important to consult a doctor about discontinuing Suboxone use.
Suboxone use in treatment programs lowers the risk of overdose by 50%, so it is a very valuable tool to use in a rehab facility setting. However, some people resist this treatment because of the following myths:
Myth #1: People Should Only Take Suboxone for a Short Period of Time
Evidence does not show that long-term use of Suboxone is negative. This medication can be thought of in the same way people think of medication that treats diabetes: Patients diagnosed with diabetes must take insulin for the rest of their lives. Some people may need Suboxone treatment for a long period of time to ensure that they don’t relapse and resume opioid use.
Myth #2: If You Aren’t Obtaining Therapy for Your Addiction, Treatment With Suboxone Isn’t Enough
Since only 10% of the people in need of treatment for a substance use disorder receive help, it would be a huge improvement if more people could obtain medication-assisted treatment for their substance use disorders. It is true that medication along with therapy and support groups would be optimal for treating substance issues, but if a person can only have one thing, medication would be a valid treatment. Treatment with Suboxone may be the only option for a person depending on his or her situation.
Myth #3: You Can Overdose on Suboxone Just as Easily as You Can Overdose on Opioids
This actually isn’t true at all. It’s very difficult to overdose on Suboxone. Because Suboxone is a partial opiate receptor agonist, the substance is incapable of activating all of the opioid receptors. Suboxone doesn’t present the risk of slowed breathing that heroin does. If Suboxone were implicated in an overdose death, it was because the person was also ingesting benzodiazepines at the same time. If this is the case, it was the benzodiazepines that caused the person’s breathing to slow down.
Myth #4: People Are Abusing Suboxone
It is possible to abuse Suboxone, but as was mentioned before, Suboxone is a partial opioid agonist. Therefore, it cannot create the high that oxycodone or heroin can. “Abuse” of Suboxone often means that people are taking it without a prescription to ease their withdrawal symptoms. It’s important to take Suboxone under a doctor’s supervision.
Myth #5: Suboxone Use Cannot Be Considered Recovery
In the past, substance misuse was treated by abstaining from ingesting any substances, but many addiction specialists are now taking a different approach. Substance use disorder is seen as a medical condition that needs a medical solution. Therefore, specialists use medications to regulate their patients’ brain chemistries. The medication is sometimes seen as a treatment for a chronic condition if a person has a severe addiction that will require long-term treatment. Withdrawal symptoms present a barrier to true recovery, so alleviating these symptoms is an important step.
When Should You Stop Suboxone?
Sometimes, people need to stop taking Suboxone. They may need to stop taking Suboxone during pregnancy, while nursing a baby, or before a surgery. Suboxone may even result in allergic reactions or other symptoms that require medical attention and cessation of taking the drug. These symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Overdosing on the drug
With Suboxone treatment, some people manage to turn their lives around entirely and to continue without opioid use. When they demonstrate that they can live their lives without drugs for the long term, their doctors may decide that they can allow them to taper off of Suboxone. This is possible for you to do, but it’s important to have professional assistance throughout the process. A drug addiction treatment facility can offer guidance and professional recommendations about how to taper off Suboxone treatments completely.
Granite Recovery Center
If you or your loved one cannot be treated with Suboxone to help with an opioid addiction, we have alternatives that we can try. At Granite Recovery Center, we can also give our clients Vivitrol or methadone to ease withdrawal symptoms and to prevent relapses. This occurs in our drug detox program. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency. After you or your loved one is finished with the detoxification process, we will continue to treat you for your substance use disorder in our inpatient treatment program or on an outpatient basis. Our goal is to help you live a healthy, sober life again.
If you are ready to embark upon a new life, contact us at Granite Recovery Center today.