Suboxone is a medication that is commonly used as part of medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, to help with opioid addiction. While this is used to help with opioid use, you might be surprised to know that Suboxone is an opioid itself. You might also be wondering if you can overdose when taking suboxone.
We will cover the overdose potential of Suboxone along with the possible side effects, what Suboxone is and many other aspects of this medication.
What Is Suboxone?
You might be wondering what Suboxone actually is and how it functions. Suboxone is actually a combination of two different medications. Suboxone mixes buprenorphine and naloxone. Both of these serve very different purposes, but together they are very helpful if you are having difficulties discontinuing opioid substances.
Buprenorphine is the opioid part of the medication. You might be wondering why there is an opioid substance here if this medication is supposed to help you stop heroin or prescription pill abuse. Much like methadone, this is a weaker opioid with a long half-life. Half-life refers to how long the substance stays within your body.
Heroin and similar substances have a short half-life. This means they make you feel high very quickly, but the effect wears off just as fast. Suboxone will interact with the opioid receptors in your brain so that you can avoid withdrawals or cravings, but the effect lasts a long time and shouldn’t make you feel high.
The other part of Suboxone is naloxone. If you have used heroin or other opioids before, then you might recognize this medication. This blocks opioids in the brain by interacting with the same receptors. This prevents you from feeling high when using opioids. Naloxone is also commonly used when someone is experiencing an overdose from heroin or other opioids, and it can save that person’s life.
Suboxone Side Effects
Whether we like it or not, most medications come with side effects. Suboxone is no exception, and you might experience some of these side effects even if you are following the doctor’s orders. Just like with other medications, you should tell your doctor if any of these side effects occur. They can tell you what the proper steps would be to reduce or remove the effects.
According to RXList, the most common side effects include:
- Shallow or weak breathing
- Loss of coordination
- Muscle weakness
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Stomach pains
- Lack of appetite
- Clay-colored stool
- Dark urine
This is not a comprehensive list, and there is always the chance that you experience a side effect that has not been documented yet. If you experience one of these symptoms or anything else, then let your doctor know.
Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms
Suboxone was developed both to help people discontinue opioids by relieving the physical cravings and to stop withdrawal symptoms. Suddenly stopping opioids like heroin can lead to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. The same is true of Suboxone. If you suddenly stop taking Suboxone, then you may face withdrawal symptoms.
According to Drugs.com, the most common Suboxone withdrawal symptoms include:
- Feeling cold or hot
- Watery eyes
- Muscle pain
These symptoms can be very uncomfortable. Not only that, but this may put you in a vulnerable position and you might feel tempted to use opioids again. If you are feeling these symptoms, then you should contact your doctor or emergency medical services immediately.
Stopping Suboxone suddenly isn’t the only way to experience withdrawals. You might be tempted to inject Suboxone in an attempt to feel high from the opioid part of this medication. According to RXList, injecting Suboxone can lead to quick and very pronounced withdrawal symptoms. If you are experiencing withdrawals due to this, then be honest with your doctor so that you get the right type of medical assistance.
You might be wondering if you can overdose on Suboxone. This is a great question because naloxone is commonly used to stop opioid overdoses. While it’s fairly uncommon, it is possible to overdose on Suboxone.
According to Drugs.com, the most common Suboxone overdose symptoms include:
- Extremely small pupils
- Severe drowsiness
- Slow or no breathing
If you experience these symptoms or notice anyone else who is, then call emergency medical services immediately. They can administer the proper medical procedures to ensure the person gets the help they need. The faster you call, the better chance of surviving the overdose.
According to RXList, there are a few things that can increase your odds of overdosing. If you are taking sedatives, benzodiazepines, antidepressants, tranquilizers or alcohol, then you run a higher risk of overdosing. Geriatric patients also face a higher risk of overdosing in general. This is because patients in this age range are typically taking many medications that might interact with Suboxone.
If you are having difficulties with opioid addiction, then you might require a medical detox. This is a process where one of our doctors will monitor your symptoms as your detox from opioids. This can be very helpful as heroin and other opioids tend to produce troubling withdrawal symptoms that you may try to avoid by going back to substance use. This is natural because you want to avoid the bad feelings from the withdrawal, but it only serves to further the addiction. Our doctor will monitor these symptoms to ensure that you get through the detox process as comfortably as possible. 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.
When it comes to opioids, you will find that MAT is very commonly used as this is currently considered one of the best ways to avoid withdrawal symptoms. This ensures that your opioid receptors are engaged without producing a high feeling. Suboxone is considered a softer MAT option than methadone, but our doctors can talk to you about which one is best for your presentation.
It is highly recommended that you engage with a therapist to support you through the recovery process. Medical detox only fixes the biological component of addiction. It won’t necessarily stop the cravings and behaviors you have developed from using opioids. Therapy can address these concerns on an individual basis.
Outpatient and Intensive Outpatient
The first two levels of care are outpatient and intensive outpatient, or IOP. These can be used separately depending on your presentation or they can be combined. Outpatient therapy might be what you traditionally think of when you consider meeting a counselor. This is individual counseling where you meet one-on-one with your assigned therapist. You will both be able to talk about your cravings and feelings so that you can be guided toward healing. Our therapists will ensure that you have the coping skills needed to stop using opioids.
IOP is very commonly used alongside MAT using Suboxone and other medications. This is a special type of group therapy specifically for substance use disorder across the spectrum. IOP lasts for three hours each time, and you will meet with your peers and counselor three times a week.
All the group members here are just like you. They came from a substance use background and are now focused on their recovery. They are fighting the same struggles you are, and you will learn from each other as time goes on. It’s very common for group members to learn coping strategies from each other, to motivate each other and to help each other through the hard times.
A certified counselor will lead the group to ensure that group rules are followed and to help with any questions that you might have. This type of therapy gives you enough time to really focus on recovery, but it still allows you to live at home, work your regular job, and meet with friends and family to relax.
Opioid use has become more widespread, and it can be very difficult to stop. While some people find that an IOP level of care is enough for them, you might need something more intensive. If that is the case, then you may want to consider either partial hospitalization or residential care. Both of these offer similar services, but the amount of time you spend in treatment is different.
Both of these are ideal if your environment isn’t supportive of recovery, and your everyday stressors are too much to handle. Partial hospitalization allows you to spend half of the day in recovery and the other half at home. You will spend the day at our facility where you will engage in both individual and group therapy sessions. There are also many planned activities aimed at helping you recover. You will then go home at night to sleep in your own bed.
If going home is too stressful right now or you feel that this still isn’t enough time for your recovery, then you may need residential treatment. This allows you to live entirely at our facility. Just like with partial hospitalization, you will engage in activities, individual therapy and group sessions to help with your recovery.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
If you are worried about a mental illness that formed either before or after your opioid use, then we want to tell you that we treat dual diagnosis clients. This is a term we use to denote any client who presents with substance use and mental health concerns. Whether you have depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder or any other mental health issue along with opioid use, then we can treat both concerns simultaneously.
Our treatment team is prepared for this. Not only can we treat it, but we can also evaluate you for this to see if there is co-occurring mental illness. You may not realize that your low moods are actually depression or that your fears are actually an anxiety disorder.
We can help you by forming a proper diagnosis and making a specific treatment plan that attends to all your needs. We like our clients to be engaged in their recovery, and we will listen to and respect your opinion as we form our treatment plan to help you recover.
We Can Help
We at Granite Recovery Centers are dedicated to helping those with substance use and dual diagnosis concerns. We have been around for over 10 years and have treated many clients in the surrounding New Hampshire area. Contact us today about your needs so that we can help you. Whether you are looking for Suboxone or other MAT medications to assist with opioid use disorder, are using another substance or have any other concerns, we are here to assist you.
Not only that, but we listen to our clients. Tell us what you need and how we can best help facilitate your recovery. We offer numerous levels of care to ensure that you get the services that you need.