How Does Suboxone Work?

Suboxone is a prescribed medication that aids in medication-assisted treatment programs like ones we offer here at Freedom Now. It is primarily used in treatments for opioid addiction. Suboxone can help reverse the effects of opioids and relieve any painful withdrawal symptoms and cravings the patient may experience during detoxification and recovery.

In this article, we hope to answer any questions you may have regarding how Suboxone works and why it is used for opioid dependence treatment.

What is in Suboxone?

Suboxone consists of two different medications: buprenorphine and naloxone.  Buprenorphine/naloxone medications work with the brain in order to treat opioid dependence. Opioids can include any prescription medications like hydrocodone, morphine, fentanyl, or oxycodone as well as heroin.

Buprenorphine is the active ingredient in Suboxone. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. This means that it acts similarly to an opioid in the way that it affects the brain’s opioid receptors, yet, as a partial agonist, does not have a long acting effect on the brain like full agonists such as heroin or even Methadone. The drug also has what is known as a ceiling effect which means that the physical effects of the drug only reach a certain point even if treatment doses increase. Due to this effect, misuse of taking Buprenorphine is reduced. The opioid effect of Buprenorphine helps reduce withdrawal symptoms in patients who are quitting opioids and aids in preventing a relapse.

The second ingredient in Suboxone is Naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist. This means that it inhibits the euphoric effects of opioid abuse. In many cases, buprenorphine/naloxone medications that are administered intravenously can cause the patient to experience painful withdrawal symptoms. However, if prescribed, Suboxone is taken orally and has very few negative effects on the patient as the Naloxone does not interact with the body as severely.

How Long Does it Take for Suboxone to Kick in?

Suboxone has a fairly quick response in the body if taken orally. Typically, once ingested or dissolved under your tongue, Suboxone will begin taking effect within 30 – 45 minutes. Depending on the dose your doctor has prescribed, the timeline for the medication to take effect can differ slightly.

How Long Does Suboxone Work ?

A single dose of buprenorphine (typically ranges between 12mg and 32mg) for opioid addiction treatment can last anywhere between 24 to 60 hours. As treatment progresses, your doctor may decrease the dosage of your prescription. The hope with this is to continue progressing with treatment with less dependence upon medications.

Does Suboxone Help with Pain?

Although Suboxone has been commonly prescribed (off-label) to treat chronic pain, the effectiveness of Suboxone in treating pain is yet to be determined. There are several risks that can follow pain treatment with Suboxone or other Buprenorphine medications. If you are suffering from both chronic pain and opioid addiction, there are a few issues that can arise in co-occurrence treatments.

To begin, in many cases where people suffer from chronic pain, there is a rise in opioid dependence and addiction, especially with those already enrolled in some form of opioid therapy. Oftentimes, patients suffering from chronic pain are prescribed opioids in order to ease the side-effects of their condition. These medications are prone to being abused and are subject to addiction. Secondly, chronic pain patients who have been prescribed high-doses of opioid medications will require an alternate form of treatment due to developing a tolerance to opioids. Thirdly, it may be advisable for patients enrolled in an opioid dependency treatment program to significantly reduce the dose of opioids they are taking for their pain while in treatment. This can potentially lead to adverse side-effects and increased sensations of pain.

Despite some studies showing that Suboxone use for pain management may show favorable results, it is yet undetermined whether or not Suboxone is actually effective in treating patients with chronic pain.

How Long Should You Take Suboxone?

Suboxone is typically a drug that is used for extended periods of time, depending on the severity of the addiction and whether or not it is combined with medication-assisted treatment programs. Yet, the goal is to completely eliminate opioid dependence in the client as they continue to progress in treatment. Suboxone is a partial agonist, meaning that it acts like an opioid – which can still allow room for opioid dependence. When the time comes for the patient to stop taking Suboxone, it is important that they are gradually taken off with reduced dosages over an extended period of time to ensure the safety of the person, limit painful withdrawal symptoms, and reduce the chances of a relapse.

Unfortunately, short-term Suboxone users have a tendency to relapse back into opioid use. It is commonly recommended for patients to take Suboxone for an extended period of time. This can range between six months to a year depending on the severity of their condition. In some cases, it is not a surprise for some clients to take Suboxone for more than a year. Every patient is different and the treatment that they receive will look different from another’s. Your doctor will be able to provide you with the necessary medical advice and aid in monitoring your progress and medication intake. They will also be able to help you have a set plan for your treatment which can give you a better idea on how long your treatment may last.

Suboxone should only be taken under the supervision and guidance of a medical professional. Treatment programs at a Suboxone Clinic like Freedom now can help you recover from opioid addiction in a controlled environment where your medication and reactions to the drugs are monitored carefully. Rehab clinicians and pharmacists can offer medication management options as a part of your treatment and a licensed doctor can also provide you with a Suboxone prescription.

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