Suboxone is a medication that made headlines for its ability to effectively reduce symptoms of withdrawal in heroin and opioid users. This is especially useful during a crisis never before seen in U.S. history. Currently, there are at least 115 people dying daily because of opioid-related misuse and addiction. This ranges from prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Not only is this having a burden on families across the country, but the United States is being impacted immensely financially. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the United States incurs $78.5 billion in lost productivity and criminal justice involvement.
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Anyone who has tried to quit opioids can attest to how difficult the process can be. While it’s not a dangerous process, it can feel like the worst flu someone has ever had. For this reason, a majority of those who try to quit opioids alone do not succeed. This is why Suboxone was created. It combines two medications that can help block opioid cravings and allow someone to transition back into a sober state more comfortably. The intention of Suboxone was to never be addictive, but Suboxone itself is an opioid, which means it has its own risks, including addiction.
Giving drugs to recovering substance users has always been a controversial topic, and that is especially the case for Suboxone. There are stories that highlight Suboxone not ending their drug addictions but only fueling them. While there are positive results, it seems the majority will not benefit from drug therapy as a means to end their addiction. One recovering user is on the record saying, “I knew I was going to get my next hit, it was just coming from a doctor.”
It’s about harm reduction, plain and simple, but that’s not always the case. For many, it will suppress cravings and allow recovering users to get through the worst of the withdrawals and give them a better chance at long-term sobriety. For many others, it will just continue to encourage active addiction and not treat the root of the problem. Addiction treatment is something that should always involve a unique and customized approach. For some, this will work, and for many others, it will not. The point being raised is to distinguish who will benefit from this and who will not. That is the sign of an effective treatment center.
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Think you can’t afford treatment? Think again! Insurance can cover up to 100%!
What Is Suboxone?
Suboxone is a medication available only by prescription that is used in the treatment of opioid addiction. The objective of the drug is to block withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. It is often administered as a sublingual strip to be placed under the tongue. This allows for a faster-acting method that can make the user feel better sooner.
Suboxone is the combination of two widely known opioid medications known as buprenorphine and naloxone. The drug is considered a partial opioid agonist, which means that buprenorphine produces a mild effect when acting on the opioid receptors within the brain.
Opioids such as oxycodone, hydromorphone, morphine, methadone, and heroin are all considered full agonists. This is why they have a much higher potential to be abused.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released a report that highlights the benefits of buprenorphine, saying the medication:
- Lowers the potential for misuse
- Diminishes the effects of physical dependence on opioids
- Increases safety in case of overdoses
Suboxone is a drug that is frequently used at medical detoxification centers, and it is also used during medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help alleviate the worst effects of opioid withdrawal. The drugs are used in conjunction with counseling and behavioral therapies as a means to seek alternative solutions when dealing with opioid addiction.
The other active ingredient, naloxone, which is known as Narcan, completely blocks full agonist opioids from attaching to opioid receptors. The purpose of adding this drug was to stop the curb any misuse are a result of Suboxone therapy.
What Are the Signs of Suboxone Addiction?
Suboxone can be an effective means of helping a recovering drug user. Although the the drug is an opioid, it does offer medicinal benefits. However, with its potential to be misused, there is also the likelihood of gaining a dependence on Suboxone. The strange part about Suboxone is that someone who does not have an opioid use disorder (OUD) is more likely to abuse the drug. Users abuse it for its euphoric effects as well as pain reduction and its calming effects. Individuals who have an opioid use disorder should use Suboxone as a way to manage cravings.
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If you suspect someone is abusing Suboxone, you may notice these actions:
- Crushing tablets to snort the powder
- Mixing crushed tablets with water to inject the mixture
- Taking more than prescribed dosage at a time
- Chewing the tablets and swallowing them
There are also outward physical signs of abuse of Suboxone that include:
- Slurred speech
- Watery eyes
- Memory impairment issues
There are other more pronounced warning signs that will come specifically from the use of Suboxone. While no one will be affected in a similar manner, the general signs of addiction can include:
- Mixing Suboxone with other drugs and alcohol
- Running out of the medication before prescription ends
- Continuing to use medication despite the consequences
- Using Suboxone for reasons other than its intended purpose
- Strained family and friends relationships
- Anxiety, depression, and irritability
- Spending all of your money on Suboxone
- Lying about drug use
Another sign of Suboxone abuse is when someone has developed a tolerance for the drug. This is when physical or psychological changes emerge after the use of the drug is reduced or stopped. Withdrawals will occur as the brain begins to adjust to smaller amounts of what they’ve become accustomed to.
Those who use the drug long-term are strongly advised against stopping the drug without medical intervention. The cold turkey method of quitting drugs can be a recipe for disaster and offer terrible results. If someone is serious about quitting Suboxone, they must discuss addiction treatment options. This will net the best possible outcome to manage the addiction. Attending a facility that offers the cutting edge in evidence-based practices will be the first place to look.
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How to Treat Suboxone Addiction
The hardest step is admitting you have a problem, and everything that follows should be a downhill battle. Learning which treatment center is best for someone will help aid in that process. Addiction treatment must be customized to follow the clients individual needs and which therapies will work best for them. This is not a one-size fits all solution, and it will be adjusted through the course if the client is not responding as anticipated.
The first step in the continuum of care will be medical detox. This is a process that can last anywhere from three to seven days. Twenty-four monitoring in this setting ensures the client that medical staff will be on hand to deal with anything out of the ordinary that can occur. This is beneficial if the client has any medical conditions that require additional medical care. Suboxone will be removed from the body safely through a tapering process by the clinicians. During this point, the client will meet with a group of addiction specialists who plan out the next phase of treatment.
Where the client is placed can depend on a variety of things including the severity of the addiction, history of relapse, if they have been given a dual diagnosis, or if they do not have a safe living environment. Any of these factors can influence where they are placed, and this could mean they are put into residential treatment where the client will live on-site anywhere from 30 days to 90 days. The longer someone stays in treatment, the better the results will be.
If it is determined that outpatient treatment is appropriate, the client will attend therapy sessions every day of the week but be able to return home upon completion. They will also be required to submit to drug tests. While the client will not be living on-site, they will still have access to the same types of therapies that are offered in residential treatment. These can include:
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
For those who use work or school as a barrier to avoid treatment, outpatient is a good option that allows them to still fulfill their obligations while treating themselves. It is nearly impossible to live a fulfilling life in active addiction, and there are always options available to someone who needs help.
Recover from Suboxone Addiction Today
Admitting to a drug problem with Suboxone should be the most difficult portion of the journey, but the process of entering treatment should never be. If you or someone you love is dealing with addiction, the best chance they have for a better life is to enter treatment and start healing their mind, body, and soul immediately. The specialists at Serenity at Summit want to hear your story today and help you to get your life back on track.
Give us a call (844)-326-4514 or contact us online to find out more about what we offer and how we can help you today. We know this is a tough time but we are here 24/7 to offer our assistance to you.
Lynne.walsh. (2015, June 15). Buprenorphine. from https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/treatment/buprenorphine
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, March 06). Opioid Overdose Crisis. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis