What Is Suboxone?
First marketed in the 1980s by a British pharmaceutical company, Reckitt Benckiser, Suboxone is a combination of two different drugs: buprenorphine, an opioid medication and naloxone, which is used to block the effects of opioid medications which includes the “high” associated with opioids.
Buprenorphine was first used as a pain reliever to help treat severe chronic pain, but then pharmaceutical companies realized it could be used to fight addiction to other opioids. Subutex, the commercial name for buprenorphine, hit the market in 2000. Soon, those who were prescribed the drug realized they could feel stronger effects if they snorted or injected it.
The makers of Suboxone added Naloxone, an opioid antagonist, to deter users from injecting or snorting the drug. Naloxone is meant to block the pleasurable or euphoric effects of the narcotic. If a user attempts to use another opioid, such as heroin or Percocet, while Suboxone is in their system, they will go into withdrawal, often times, severe. Naloxone is also the active ingredient in Narcan, the drug used to reverse overdoses
When the medication became legal in the US in 2002, it was found to be a much better alternative to methadone in the treatment of opioid addiction. By 2008, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism had found that Suboxone is just as effective for heroin drug treatment as methadone, but with fewer safety risks and deaths.
What Is Suboxone Used For?
At some drug rehabilitation centers, Suboxone is used to help those detox from opioids. Through use of the drug, the user will be able to wean themselves off opioids. This method can be beneficial for heroin and opioids addicts instead of going “cold turkey,” a method which has severe side effects that could cause the user to return to abusing drugs before he/she can truly get clean.
Can I Get Addicted?
Like all narcotics, Suboxone has a high potential for abuse. In recent years the abuse of Suboxone has increased exponentially. One of the contributing factors to Suboxone abuse is the implementation of long term maintenance programs. Some people have gone to doctors to try to get off the deadly effects of opiates and have been put on extended Suboxone programs. And with any drug, the tolerance of the drug’s effects will increase and an addict will need more to not feel the withdrawal effects of the drug itself.
Since Suboxone has an active narcotic in its makeup, individuals who use the drug for extended periods of time, can develop a physical dependence to it, and eventually find themselves addicted. Attempting to stop taking Suboxone “cold turkey” has very similar effects as stopping heroin or prescription opiates abruptly. “Cold turkey” detoxes without the supervision of medical professionals, is one major reason why addicts return to active use.
There are also times that a person gets “cut off” their program after a period of 6-12 months and the chances of returning to active opiate addiction is almost immediate in some cases. Many people are also using Suboxone programs to sell their prescriptions. On the street today, Suboxone can be bought as readily as the drugs it was meant to combat.
If and when Suboxone is used correctly and for detox purposes, it can be beneficial. The use of this medication should be prescribed by a medical professional. Taking the medication for long periods of time, increases the chance of dependence and addiction.
Suboxone Side Effects
The narcotic found in Suboxone, buprenorphine, comes with its own set of side-effects and health risks. Like several other opioid medications, buprenorphine can slow your breathing and heart rate, if not taken properly and under the supervision of a doctor. If you are being treated with buprenorphine for an opiate addiction, taking other medications such as Xanax or Valium, can increase your chances of slowed heart rate and breathing. In extreme cases, it can be the cause of an overdose. Other side effects include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of energy
- Has addictive qualities
- Has its own set of withdrawal symptoms
- Cravings & Obsessions
- Body Aches
- Restless Legs
- Vomiting & Diarrhea
- Mood Swings
Warning Signs of a Loved One’s Suboxone Addiction
You may be wondering what it looks like to be addicted to Suboxone. How could you tell if someone you love is addicted to the medication? Here are some common warning signs of Suboxone addiction
- Doctor Shopping – Going to multiple doctors to receive refills; always running out of their prescription days or even weeks early.
- Irresponsible – Starts doing poorly in class; calls in sick to work frequently; forgets to pay bills
- Not interested in hobbies – Things they once loved to do, no longer interests them.
- Isolation – Becomes withdrawn from family, friends, and even society
- Money/Possessions go missing – Usually if someone is unable to refill their prescription, they will attempt to buy Suboxone or other opiates on the street. Often times, they will steal cash or possessions, such as jewelry and electronics. Typically they pawn those items, but occasionally they will do a direct trade with a dealer.
- Tired/Lethargic – Seems to sleep for long periods of time; always appear tired, even when they haven’t exerted much energy.
Get Help for Your Suboxone Addiction Today
If you are suffering from a Suboxone addiction, we are ready to help. At Clearbrook’s Suboxone addiction treatment program, you will receive quality treatment that is customized to fit your needs. From a medically supervised detox process to an individualized inpatient treatment regiment, our highly trained and dedicated staff will give you the tools to achieve lasting sobriety. Before your stay with us is complete, our clinical team will work closely with you, your family and our Aftercare Coordinator to establish a continued care plan that will set you on the path to recovery. For more information on Suboxone addiction treatment, contact the drug and alcohol treatment rehab Clearbrook today. Our Admissions Specialists will be happy to answer any questions you may have.