Over the past several decades, addiction specialists have adequately treated opioid addiction with the use of less potent and less dangerous opioids. It’s a similar strategy to fighting fire with fire, and by doing so, it relieves some of the more difficult symptoms that can occur during withdrawal.
Once the individual has navigated past the withdrawal symptoms, they will continue to experience cravings from their previous drug use. This is where a drug like Suboxone comes in to help satisfy those cravings while not creating a euphoric high as a result. Methadone was the first of these partial agonist drugs that were used in conjunction with therapy, and it is recognized by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) List of Essential Medicines.
Buprenorphine, which is the active ingredient in Suboxone, is combined with naloxone and was approved for clinical use in October 2002 by the U.S. Food And Drug Administration (FDA), and it represents the latest advance in medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Suboxone was initially marketed in the 1980s by Reckitt Benckiser, a British consumer health products company.
In its earlier days, Suboxone was initially used as a pain reliever to treat severe chronic pain. In small doses, it proved to be more effective than powerful opioid painkillers like morphine. It has a similar chemical makeup to heroin and morphine, but it does not give someone a euphoria feeling like other opioids, which is the reason for its success.
Given the current state of affairs with the opioid crisis, having a trick hidden up your sleeve can be a valuable asset. An article recently released by Healio indicates that the opioid crisis is expected to worsen by 2025.
These are projections that are startling given that more than 130 people in the United States die every day from opiate overdoses. The misuse and addiction to opioids, including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids like fentanyl is a public health crisis as well as social and economic welfare.
Twenty-one to 29 percent of people that are prescribed opiate medications for chronic pain misuse them, and another eight to 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder. Furthermore, a staggering 80 percent of people who use heroin first abused prescription opioids.
With the trend projected to skyrocket in the wrong direction, and the number of opioid deaths expected to increase 147 percent, having the option to use Suboxone for opioid dependence must be widely implemented.
The opioid crisis is perhaps the most severe problem we have ever experienced in the modern world, and it is going to take a modern approach to begin making a dent in these numbers. In the sections below, we will discuss how Suboxone is implemented to treat opioid dependence.
How is Suboxone Used in Opioid Addiction Treatment
Opioids fall into a class of drugs known as central nervous system (CNS) depressants and are typically used to manage symptoms of chronic or short-term pain. Opium is a potent central nervous system depressant in which most painkillers are derived. While there is a crisis sweeping through our nation like wildfire, doctors still use the drugs on a large scale to treat pain.
While these drugs have been widely implemented as pain relievers, and in many cases have been highly effective, there is a dark side. They are incredibly addictive. When any of these medications are taken regularly over time, the individual that is consuming them will eventually become physically and even psychologically dependent.
Addiction specialists and physicians are proponents of encouraging opioid users to complete detox programs that are followed by the whole continuum of care. As an alternative, they may also suggest programs that begin replacement therapy in a Suboxone maintenance program.
Suboxone is a brand name prescription medication that works by blocking withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings. The drug can be ingested by placing a sublingual strip or tablet that goes under the tongue. When this method of administration is applied, it creates a faster-acting process which is vital when someone is going through withdrawal.
Suboxone is a combination of two medications – buprenorphine and naloxone. Unlike other opioids, the primary difference with the drug is that it is a partial opioid against which means it will produce a milder effect when acting on opioid receptors in the brain. Opioids that are sought are full agonists, and that is what makes the drug an asset in treating addiction.
Unlike other replacement medications that require a prescription from a specialized treatment center, Suboxone can be prescribed by a doctor. Many individuals who begin taking Suboxone at the beginning of treatment and will continue to do so throughout the continuum of care. It will help with cravings and manage withdrawal symptoms to decrease the discomfort of the experience. Counseling and therapy will help target the underlying reason for opioid use and will help the individual find new ways to overcome stress and cope with pain.
Since Suboxone can be used during different stages of treatment, it provides a long-term solution for overcoming opioid addiction.
Is Suboxone Dangerous?
Since Suboxone has the power only to create minimal effects of euphoria and respiratory depression, are there any dangers that come with taking it long-term? The objective of treating opioid addiction is to reach a point where abstinence from all drugs takes place and overcome dependence on substances of abuse. As with all opioids, Suboxone is not exempt from dangerous and even life-threatening side effects. Some of these include:
- Overdose: Those who abuse Suboxone to get high can overdose, which will result in unconsciousness, severe respiratory depression, and death. Those who consume other drugs like benzodiazepines or alcohol are at higher risk of overdose.
- Allergic Reaction: Cases of hypersensitivity to buprenorphine and naloxone have been reported during and after clinical trials of the drug. Some of the more severe cases include anaphylactic shock, bronchospasm, and angioneurotic edema. More common symptoms include rashes, itching, and hives.
Other Reactions from Long-Term Suboxone Use Include:
- Serotonin syndrome
- Androgen deficiency
- Adrenal Insufficiency
While Suboxone has been a proven method to help combat opioid use disorders, Suboxone is not endorsed for long-term use. Several studies examine the effects of Suboxone used long-term after detox and withdrawal that show adverse outcomes for continued use. These effects can include:
- Decreased coordination
- Suicidal thoughts
Medication-assisted treatment is a viable option and will continue to be utilized and treat those trying to end their dependence on opioids. Despite some of the negative traits that are associated with Suboxone use, the pros certainly outweigh the cons. With the right supervision by addiction specialists and doctors, the risks can be avoided. If you are at the point of your life where you are ready to try something new, perhaps Maryland House Detox can help. While you may be physically alive while trapped in active addiction, are you actually living? Get the help you deserve.
Suboxone Versus Methadone
As we’ve seen around us, an addiction to opioids can create significant medical, social, and economic problems to us individually, and to our society. Fortunately, treatment options have become more advanced that allow us to treat opioid addiction with much higher success rates. Methadone therapy has been around for decades, but newer drugs such as Suboxone create fewer risks of being abused. The question you may wonder, however, is Suboxone more effective than methadone?
The goal of methadone treatment is to help those struggling with addiction manage their cravings. It works by easing cravings a person will experience, and diminish withdrawal symptoms, which is a significant advantage that it is controlled. It is a full agonist opioid, which means it is useful in severe cases of opioid addiction. The disadvantage is that it can be abused and cause addiction.
While Suboxone is a newer method of treatment, it has emerged as an excellent means of dealing with opioid addiction. Due to its status as a partial agonist, Suboxone has what is known as a ceiling effect, which means it reduces the physiological incentives to take more. It also blocks some opioid receptors and has the benefit of directly blocking dangerous opiates if they are taken in conjunction with the drug. The one disadvantage, however, is that it may be less effective in managing cravings than methadone.