Suboxone Addiction: Symptoms, Risks, Safe Use, and Treatment

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Suboxone is a medication widely used to treat Opioid Use Disorder and addiction.

It is extremely effective in treating opioid addiction. However, this is due to one of the key ingredients being a partial opioid. This means that there is a potential for the medication to be abused and for users to develop an addiction.

To help to educate you about Suboxone and the risk it carries for addiction, this article will cover:

  • What Suboxone is
  • How an addiction to the medication can develop
  • The signs and symptoms of Suboxone addiction to look out for
  • Addiction vs compulsion
  • Treatment
  • How to prevent an addiction to the medication.

Let’s get started.

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a combination of two different ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone. Together, they work to reduce opioid cravings and produce mild opiate effects in order to ward off withdrawal symptoms and treat opioid use disorder.

A Closer Look at Buprenorphine And Naloxone

The reason why Suboxone works so well is that buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist and it engages with the opioid receptors in your brain.

A partial agonist allows users to experience similar euphoric effects to full opioids but at a much lower dose — staving off withdrawal symptoms and helping them to ease off the drug.

Additionally, naloxone is an opioid antagonist, meaning it reverses and reduces the effects of opioids already in the system.

The effects of buprenorphine and naloxone these two ingredients are crucial to the initial recovery process from opioid addiction, as they help the body adjust to functioning without opioids and also work to reduce the withdrawal symptoms.

How to Take Suboxone

Suboxone is a prescription medication that is available in two different forms: a tablet and a sublingual film (also known as oral film), both designed to dissolve in your mouth.

To take the sublingual film, simply place it under the tongue and wait for it to dissolve. The tablet functions as normal and is meant to be left on the tongue until it dissolves.

Is Suboxone Addictive?

Suboxone addiction is rare, but it is possible.

While you are more likely to develop an addiction to a full opioid, the partial opioid ingredients in Suboxone mean that there is the possibility for an addiction to develop — greatly hindering your long-term recovery from opioid use disorder altogether.

However, the chances of this occurring are low, as usually medical professionals administer the medication with caution and monitor patients closely to prevent addiction from occurring.

How a Suboxone Addiction Can Develop

While it is rare, there are several ways an addiction to Suboxone can develop.

One of the main ways addiction can occur is by improperly using the medication. Using Suboxone without oversight from a medical professional, taking more or less than has been prescribed to you, or taking the medication despite not being prescribed or needing it can lead to addiction.

Additionally, prolonged use may contribute to the potential for misuse. As Suboxone has partial opioid ingredients, there is still a chance the user can become addicted to its effects the longer they use it.

The likelihood of this occurring is increased if you are taking a high dosage of the medication, as the opioid effects may be stronger (and therefore more addictive).

The Signs and Symptoms of Suboxone Addiction

There are several signs and symptoms that you can look out for that may indicate an addiction to Suboxone. Here are some of the most common:

  • Behavioral signs: These could be secretive behavior surrounding the use of Suboxone, taking more than your daily dose, or even doctor shopping in order to obtain more of the medication.
  • Physical symptoms: Symptoms similar to those seen in opioid misuse such as drowsiness, slurred speech, and cognitive inability can indicate a Suboxone addiction.
  • Psychological symptoms: Experiencing cravings for or anxiety without Suboxone could be the result of a Suboxone addiction.

The Treatment for Suboxone Addiction

If a Suboxone addiction has developed, there are various ways that you can expect to be treated for the issue.

1. Medical Fetoxification

One of the most common ways a Suboxone addiction is treated is via medical detoxification. This involves ceasing to use the drug and allowing the body to clear all traces of it from the system.

This can sometimes take several days and produce unpleasant side effects. However, it is highly effective.

2. Behavioral Therapy

Another effective treatment for suboxone addiction is attending behavioral therapy. Behavioral therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for all types of addiction as it allows the patient to address why they developed an addiction and work on preventing it from occurring again.

3. Support Groups

Finding a community made up of others who share your struggles is a great way to gain the support you need to undertake your recovery journey. Whether it’s a Suboxone specific group or a general addiction support network, they can be greatly helpful in preventing addiction from taking place.

How to Prevent Suboxone Addiction

As is true of any addiction, the best advice we can give is to prevent it from the start. Here are a few of the best ways to proactively prevent a Suboxone addiction.

1. Follow Doctor’s Instructions

The best way to prevent a suboxone addiction is simply bt following your doctor’s orders and ensuring you are taking your correct dose.

Trained medical professionals know how to administer medication properly, and their instructions are usually designed to ensure you use the prescription safely and effectively.

2. Regular Medical Check-ins

Checking in with a healthcare professional regularly can also help to prevent addiction from occuring.

Healthcare workers are trained to look for the early signs and symptoms of addiction, and by regularly checking in with them, they can assess you and ensure you are on the right track.

If you are showing early signs of addiction, they can help to create a continuum of care plan that prevents the addiction from going any further.

3. Open Communication From Healthcare Provider

Honesty is the best policy, even when it comes to Suboxone.

Being honest with your healthcare provider about your experience with Suboxone is important. They can help you to guage whether you are heading down the path of addiction, need to have your dose adjusted, or if you need extra assistance when taking the medication.

Your doctor can’t help you unless they are aware of what’s going on. Therefore. always make sure to be truthful during your checkups!

The Bottom Line

Suboxone is a great option for those who struggle with opioid dependency or addiction, as it provides a way to stop taking and relying on opioids. However, due to its ingredients, there is potential for missuse and developing a further substance abuse disorder.

Luckily, there are ways you can prevent addiction from occuring — allowing you to slowly tradision to a drug-free life. Ultimately, it is important that you listen to your doctor, follow instructions, and be open and honest with yourself and your healthcare provider about how the medication makes you feel.

Sources

  1. https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/quick-start-guide.pdf
  2. https://www.samhsa.gov/medications-substance-use-disorders/medications-counseling-related-conditions/buprenorphine
  3. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/naloxone
  4. https://www.addictioncenter.com/opiates/suboxone-addiction-abuse/
  5. https://lagunatreatment.com/drug-abuse/suboxone/dangers/
  6. https://lagunatreatment.com/drug-abuse/suboxone/dangers/
  7. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/is-suboxone-addictive#signs-of-addiction
  8. https://windwardway.com/suboxone/detox/
  9. https://www.addictioncenter.com/treatment/cognitive-behavioral-therapy/#:~:text=Cognitive%20behavioral%20therapy%20is%20widely,how%20these%20things%20impact%20recovery.
  10. https://www.bicyclehealth.com/suboxone-faq/first-day-of-treatment

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