What is Suboxone?
Subxone has become the preferred medication to treat OUD, as it is proven to be less habit-forming than other medications such as Methadone.
Suboxone can be used to treat a variety of OUD cases, including addiction to prescription painkillers and synthetic substances like Heroin and Fentanyl.
Suboxone should be used as part of a complete treatment program that includes medical supervision, counseling, and behavioral therapy.
When Suboxone is used alongside appropriate behavior therapy within a complete treatment program, the chances of long-term sobriety are significantly increased.
How Does Suboxone Work?
Suboxone contains two important ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone.
Buprenorphine acts as a partial opioid agonist, meaning it feeds the opioid receptors in your brain in a targeted way.
This helps to significantly reduce the withdrawal symptoms you face during opioid detox, and reduces cravings for opioids.
The presence of Naloxone prevents the pleasurable effects of opioids from occurring, so the user will not feel ‘high’.
When used alone, Naloxone is a drug that can temporarily reverse opioid overdose by blocking these drugs from reaching the opioid receptors in the brain.
Suboxone can help you to manage the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, stabilize in order to live a normal life, and eventually fully recover from OUD.
The Role of Suboxone in Opioid Dependency Treatment
Reduced cravings and withdrawals
Essentially, Suboxone works by feeding the opioid receptors in your brain to provide relief from painful withdrawals and reduce cravings.
Improved functioning and enhanced quality of life
Withdrawals that occur during opioid detox can be debilitating and prevent you from living a normal life.
Therefore, Suboxone’s minimization of withdrawal symptoms can help you to function better and have an enhanced quality of life.
When included in a full treatment plan, Suboxone is a long-term solution for managing OUD which can help you return to everyday life and feel ‘normal’.
The Benefits of Suboxone Treatment
It has lower potential for misuse compared to full agonists
The addition of Naloxone in Suboxone prevents users from feeling ‘high’ and experiencing the pleasurable effects of opioids.
Furthermore, Naloxone reverses the symptoms of opioid abuse. Therefore, it is difficult for Suboxone to be misused as a substance.
Flexibility in treatment settings
Suboxone can be prescribed by your primary care provider, given they are qualified and trained to do so.
This makes the medication highly accessible, as other OUD medications require a prescription from a specialized treatment center.
Suboxone treatment can occur through an inpatient or outpatient setting, depending on what is best suited for your needs and situation.
Inpatient treatment requires a residential stay inside a rehabilitation center and is an intensive experience involving 24-hour supervision.
On the other hand, outpatient treatment allows you to continue all your daily activities and administer your medication from home.
While in outpatient treatment, your progress, symptoms, reactions and dosage will still be closely monitored and supervised, and you will likely visit a center for counseling sessions and check-ins.
Suboxone is a viable outpatient medication option that can be administered from home, thereby allowing for greater flexibility in treatment.
The Suboxone Treatment Process
Initial medical assessment
The first step of Suboxone treatment involves discussing your treatment plan with your provider. You can expect to learn about how the medication works, the side effects to watch out for, and how you should take the treatment.
It’s important to be open about your history of opioid use, concurrent disorders or conditions, mental state, and situation.
This will ensure you are given the right support and treatment options to increase your chances of a full recovery.
You may also undergo physical examination and lab tests to assess recent opioid use and screen for the use of other drugs.
Induction onto Suboxone
Before starting Suboxone, you must go through a withdrawal phase which is typically the most uncomfortable stage of treatment.
Due to Naloxone being present in Suboxone, it is crucial that there is no active opioid in the bloodstream before use. Otherwise, serious withdrawal symptoms may occur.
You will be required to abstain from opioids for at least 12-24 hours before beginning Suboxone.
Then, Suboxone can be administered which will alleviate these unpleasant symptoms within a few hours of your first dose.
During induction onto Suboxone, your provider will administer additional doses to determine the correct regular dose for you.
It’s crucial to maintain honest and open communication about how you are feeling and what you are experiencing.
You will maintain high levels of communication with your provider and treatment team for the first 24-72 hours of being on Suboxone.
The next phase of treatment is known as stabilization, which involves a continuous adjustment of dosage to find a dose that works for you.
This dose is designed to keep cravings and withdrawals to a minimum. You’ll be expected to communicate with your provider and treatment team anytime you experience cravings.
Regular doctor visits and maintenance
Once you are stabilized on the medication, the frequency of visits with your provider may decrease. However, your progress will continue to be monitored.
You can expect to feel ‘normal’, and have little to no withdrawals or cravings. During maintenance, you will regularly check in with your provider and likely have your dose frequently and gradually reduced.
Tapering and potential discontinuation
Whilst there is no set timeline for Suboxone treatment, 12-18 months of treatment is generally recommended.
When your treatment team and provider have determined that you are ready, you will slowly taper off Suboxone. This means your dose will gradually be reduced at a rate that minimizes withdrawal symptoms.
It’s important that you keep in close communication with your provider and treatment team, and reach out immediately if you ever feel that you are at risk of relapse.
Throughout the entire Suboxone treatment process, it’s recommended that you engage with complementary treatment tools such as counseling and therapy to work on your mental state and emotional wellbeing.
Seeking psychosocial support through your journey can help you to heal from addiction more fully, and may reduce the risk of relapse.
Safety and Potential Side Effects of Suboxone
Like any other medication, Suboxone has a number of side effects which your provider will discuss with you in detail.
Suboxone can cause nausea, headache, sweating, constipation and diarrhea.
Because Suboxone is a partial opioid agonist, one of the most severe side effects is that it can cause respiratory depression (just as other opioids can).
Respiratory depression occurs when breathing becomes dangerously shallow or slowed, resulting in a lack of oxygen in the body.
If you experience slow or shallow breathing, it’s crucial that you seek medical help immediately as this can be dangerous. Overdose of Suboxone increases the chances of respiratory depression.
Who Should Consider Suboxone Treatment?
If you are struggling with OUD, Suboxone could be an appropriate treatment option for you.
One of the major benefits of Suboxone for treating opioid dependency is that it minimizes withdrawals and cravings, allowing you to function better and have an enhanced quality of life while you detox from opioids and transition into a sober life.
It’s important that Suboxone is used as one part of a complete treatment plan in order for you to fully recover from opioid dependence.
Suboxone Treatment vs. Other Modalities
|Can be administered from home
|Mostly administered at clinics
|Flexibility and Ease of Use
|Can be used outside intensive programs
|Often requires clinic visits
|Less addictive than Methadone
|More addictive potential
|Difficult to abuse due to Naloxone
|Higher potential for abuse
|Naloxone helps prevent overdose
|Higher risk of overdose
As Suboxone can be administered from home, it has a greater ease of use than other modalities such as methadone.
Suboxone can be used outside of an intensive addiction treatment program, thus allowing for greater flexibility.
A significant benefit of Suboxone is that it is less addictive than Methadone.
Furthermore, it is very difficult to abuse Suboxone due to the presence of Naloxone which blocks feelings of being ‘high’ and prevents overdose.
Therefore, the potential for abusing Suboxone is much less than that of Methadone.
To summarize, this article has covered:
- The use of Suboxone for opioid dependency
- How the medication works
- The Suboxone treatment process and what to expect
- Potential side effects of Suboxone
- Who can benefit from Suboxone
- The benefits of Suboxone in comparison to Methadone.
Suboxone may be an appropriate treatment for you if you are struggling with Opioid dependency.
The medication is most effective when used as part of a complete treatment program and under close supervision from a medical professional.
If you are struggling with opioid dependency and think that Suboxone may be a beneficial medication for you, reach out to a treatment provider near you call 1-800-662-HELP for confidential and free treatment referral and information.