Suboxone is a medication with the potential to reduce symptoms of opiate addiction and withdrawal. With sales of $1.55 billion in 2013, the New York Timescalled Suboxone a “blockbuster” medication that is touted as a safer alternative to methadone in battling opioid addiction.
However, Suboxone has the potential to be abused and create addiction. The reason for its effectiveness is the reason for its potential for addiction. This creates a “double-edged sword” for heroin and opioid addicts looking to repair their lives. In fact, the medication has created its own epidemic that requires its own course of treatment to remedy.
Suboxone is the combination of two different drugs: buprenorphine, which a partial opioid agonist, and naloxone, a pure opioid antagonist.
Buprenorphine’s job is to deliver a very diminished opioid dose to a person recovering from stronger opioid addiction. This provides a way for the patient to be gradually weaned off their pre-existing addiction. It also minimizes the withdrawal symptoms that occur during the recovery process.
The other drug in Suboxone is naloxone, a pure opioid antagonist. This means it reverses the effects of opioid agonists that are already in the patient’s system by intercepting signals that the receptors are sending to the nervous system.
However, naloxone’s action of shutting off opioid receptors and signals in the body can trigger withdrawal symptoms for people who are currently on opioids. This creates effects that range from agitation and irritability to wild mood swings, insomnia, nausea, muscle cramping, and diarrhea. Also, patients who are addicted to full opioid agonists such as heroin run a risk of developing seizures and respiratory failure while on naloxone.
Since naloxone carries too many risks for it to be administered by itself, it is combined with buprenorphine to give clients an easier process of weaning off of stronger narcotics. The result, of course, is Suboxone.
In Suboxone’s first clinical trial of extended usage to treat opioid addiction, a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) of 154 young adults found that Suboxone treatment substantially improved outcomes.
The study’s investigators noted not just “a marked reduction” in opioid use, but other drugs as well. They also found better retention of treatment concepts in patients given Suboxone for rehab.
Five years after that 2008 study, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reported nearly 10 million prescriptions for Suboxone were filled.
However, Suboxone can sometimes work a little too well. In 2014, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported on a patient who, following an overdose of the opioid painkiller OxyContin, was prescribed Suboxone.
The patient soon developed an addiction, abusing the dosage and even the means by which he was taking the drug. Instead of taking Suboxone orally or letting Suboxone filmstrips dissolve under his tongue, the person was dissolving the filmstrips in water and injecting the liquid into his veins.
Such a method bypasses the digestive system, which would have preserved naloxone’s opioid antagonist properties. Since naloxone, the opioid antagonist, is only activated once it’s in the bloodstream, the person was effectively taking two opioid agonists. He may have been doing this to achieve a quicker relief from his Oxycontin withdrawal symptoms but was effectively moving toward a new and dangerous addiction.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that Suboxone was the “primary drug” in 420 reported deaths since 2003. The National Pain Report reported that more than 30,000 emergency room visits in 2010 were the result of Suboxone misuse. Of those ER visits, more than 50 percent were considered “recreational” use of the drug.
Signs of Abuse and Misuse
There are numerous physical and psychological effects that can suggest a person is misusing Suboxone. Noticing these signs in the right context can help the individual to receive the treatment necessary to wean off Suboxone:
– Nausea and vomiting
– Unpredictable mood swings
– Muscle aches
Treatment for Suboxone Addiction
As with most cases of opioid abuse, the first step of treatment is detoxification, the controlled and supervised withdrawal from Suboxone.
Since this will trigger the usual withdrawal symptoms, it is imperative that detox is conducted in a treatment facility, in the presence of certified healthcare professionals.
Getting The Right Help At Our Suboxone Rehab In Kentucky
When clients are ready, they can be released from treatment, but it is necessary that they touch with a 12-Step group or an aftercare support program, like an alumni treatment program.
If you are ready to quit using Suboxone, JourneyPure Bowling Green is here for you.
We help manage those difficult days of drug withdrawal through medically managed detox. Next, we design a comprehensive holistic recovery plan to address the core reasons for the drug abuse. This involves taking an integrated treatment approach for co-occurring disorders, which are mental health disorders that occur alongside the substance addiction.
Don’t let an addiction to Suboxone define your life. Call now for more information. The call is free, confidential, and there is no obligation to enroll. Let JourneyPure Bowling Green find your path to freedom today!