What is Suboxone? Suboxone combines two drugs: Buprenorphine and Naloxone. Suboxone Buprenorphine/Naloxone is used to treat opioid dependence disorder – specifically in the treatment of opioid withdrawal symptoms. Buprenorphine is an opioid with a ceiling effect which means that its effects on the brain cease after reaching a certain dose over a period of time. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, so it works in Suboxone to reduce or eliminate the euphoric feelings that are likely to result with opioid use.
Both Buprenorphine and Naloxone have been available for years. However, a major shift in treating opioid dependence came about when Suboxone and Subutex became approved by the FDA in 2002. This marked a new affordable, safe, and effective treatment option for those addicted to narcotics like heroin and opiates. However, since the approval of these two medications, Subutex has been discontinued whereas Suboxone is continued to be used in many facilities throughout the US to help treat opioid addiction.
Another common medication used in narcotic addiction is Methadone. Like Methadone, Suboxone aids in decreasing cravings, painful withdrawal symptoms, and the frequency of many symptoms that may result in discontinued use of narcotics. Unlike Methadone, Suboxone is considered a safer alternative as it is both effective and less likely to be abused.
Suboxone is commonly prescribed as a sublingual film which means that it dissolves under the tongue.
This article will seek to answer any questions you may have regarding the effects Suboxone may have on your body while undergoing treatment and the potential side effects of Suboxone.
As stated above, Suboxone contains both Buprenorphine and Naloxone.
Buprenorphine is an opioid. Buprenorphine, as a partial opioid agonist, reacts in the brain by attaching itself to the brain’s opioid receptors. This affects the central nervous system and helps reduce the possibility of opioid withdrawal syndrome, relieves any painful side effects, and significantly aids in opioid detoxification. However, Buprenorphine is not a strong enough opioid to insight the same euphoric feelings that many opioids cause, but releases enough endorphins to prevent a relapse. Instead of a “high,” many people will experience a feeling of normality and stability while on a strict Buprenorphine regimen. Additionally, Buprenorphine takes longer to metabolize within the body, giving the brain a steadier release and aiding in a lower tendency for developing a tolerance toward the medication.
The purpose of Buprenorphine in Suboxone is to reduce the need for continued opioid use. Reducing the use of more dangerous and addictive substances is the main incentive for Suboxone treatment. Allowing a patient to feel as if they can function regularly during their treatment can help further the success of their treatment process by eliminating the possibility of withdrawal syndrome and the need for being high. The goal for any kind of treatment involving Suboxone, especially at a Suboxone Clinic like Freedom Now, is to eventually lower the dosage over a period of time to help the brain return to its state pre-dependence. This method is called Suboxone tapering.
Compared to many other medications that seek to do the same thing, Suboxone has many advantages. The negative effects of Buprenorphine are known to be less severe compared to Methadone, even when taken at higher doses. This is especially true for common side effects like respiratory depression, risk of overdose, and the risk of developing a physical dependence on treatment medications. Although misuse of Buprenorphine is a risk, it is relatively unlikely when administered in Suboxone. The Naloxone in Suboxone helps prevent the risk of abuse by restricting Buprenorphine’s effect on the brain. If Suboxone is taken orally in the form of a sublingual film, the risk of withdrawal symptoms and potentially life-threatening conditions is significantly reduced. The combination of both Buprenorphine and Naloxone helps ensure patient safety and a sustained recovery.
Suboxone works in several different ways, as mentioned above. Below is a quick summary of how Suboxone works once it has entered your system.
Buprenorphine acts similarly to an opioid. It reacts with the brain’s opioid receptors in the same way, but also limits the effects of opioids by blocking any potential continued misuse. Because of these unique effects, Buprenorphine is classified as a partial opioid agonist.
Buprenorphine is the active ingredient in Suboxone that aids in treating the withdrawal and substance dependence. Because of its unique properties it is less likely to cause a patient to experience a drug-induced high.
Naloxone is an additional medication added in Suboxone to prevent Suboxone abuse. Naloxone is considered an opioid antagonist and works against Buprenorphine, in a very limited way, to help control the effects it has on the brain. As an antagonist, it blocks the brain’s ability to receive opioid agonists.
Opioid dependency can be life-threatening. However, improper use of Suboxone can be just as lethal. If you misuse Suboxone and have it injected into your body, Naloxone will take effect immediately and block the brain’s ability to respond to the Buprenorphine. As a result, serious side effects may occur resulting in painful withdrawal, seizures, or worse. It is important that you take Suboxone as directed by a medical professional (pharmacist, physician, or doctor).
Medication-assisted treatment with Suboxone is the most common treatment option for opioid abuse. MAT is typically performed in two phases: induction and maintenance. The use of Suboxone will be administered in both of these phases.
Induction with Suboxone will most often begin as part of the detoxification process. Suboxone will be prescribed to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Oftentimes higher doses of Suboxone are administered in order to prevent dangerous side effects of opiate cessation. Induction is commonly pursued if the person is dependent upon short-acting opioids like heroin, Morphine, Oxycodone, or Codeine.
Suboxone will only be administered in these doses during detox.
Suboxone maintenance is commonly pursued by way of medication management services. This means that reduced levels of the medication will be prescribed over the course of a specific time frame. The purpose of such a program is to ensure that withdrawal is prevented, relapse is low risk, and that the discontinuation of Suboxone will not result in adverse effects.
Within a few months to a year, tapering (reduction of medication dosage) will begin until you no longer need to take the prescription.
Suboxone is a long-acting opioid. This means that it can remain and take effect in the body for up to 3 days depending on the dose. The risk of problems arising because of its use are relatively low. If taken in higher doses compared to other similar medications, the negative side effects like breathing problems or headaches occur in less patients than those taking Methadone.
However, there is still the potential for Suboxone to lead to negative effects on the body. If Suboxone is taken with anxiety medications (benzodiazepines) or alcohol, the risks significantly increase. Issues associated with this combination can include:
However, short-term use of Suboxone, as directed by your doctor, may only result in:
In addition to this, the common negative side effects may include
Relatively speaking, Suboxone has a low risk of dangerous side effects if taken in a short duration.
Long-term use of Suboxone may present its own risks. Although uncommon, extended opioid addiction treatment or abuse of Suboxone can affect both the mental and physical state of the patient. Long-term abuse of Suboxone can result in the following symptoms:
Before beginning treatment with Suboxone, be sure to seek medical advice and talk with your doctor to see if the medication is right for you. If you or your loved one are seeking help for opioid addiction in Boynton Beach, FL, consider contacting us at Freedom Now today to learn more about Suboxone and our treatment services.