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Suboxone is an opioid drug (administered by dissolving a thin film under the tongue) that is commonly used as part of a detox program to help manage withdrawal from other opioids. It can also be used over a longer term to maintain one’s recovery and keep down the risk of relapsing with harder, riskier opioid drugs like the ones they’d used before, which is known as medication-assisted treatment.
When used appropriately, suboxone can play a role in treating opioid use disorder by serving as a partial opioid agonist. A partial agonist will bond to the brain’s opioid receptors, but only partially, meaning it can suppress withdrawal symptoms and reduce opioid cravings without creating the same addictive high as other drugs of the same class.
Though it is sometimes referred to as buprenorphine treatment, suboxone is actually a combination of the partial agonist buprenorphine and naloxone, which is an opioid antagonist, meaning that it blocks the brain’s opioid receptors completely.
Since it is possible to misuse suboxone to get high, especially for those with a low opioid tolerance, combining buprenorphine and naloxone creates a ceiling effect, limiting how high one can get on it to make it more difficult to abuse suboxone while guarding against suboxone overdose.
The resulting combination of the two drugs is generally intended to be a gentle “step down” that can help treat opioid addiction, and one that has helped many people to gain control of their opioid drug addiction. In accordance with the latest in addiction science supporting medication-assisted treatment, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has recently loosened the regulations surrounding prescription medication.
But while most people do not find suboxone addictive, in rare cases, suboxone use can also fuel a full-blown opioid use disorder of its own if the drug is misused. Those who become addicted to suboxone may also sell it to others, bringing in new addicts who were not previously in detox.
As with any addiction, abusers of suboxone often exhibit a few key symptoms and behaviors. Physically, suboxone addicts may experience nausea, vomiting, sweating, insomnia, slurred speech, memory problems, smaller pupils, diarrhea, and more.
Other, subtler social and behavioral signs may also be present. For example, friends and loved ones may notice that the individual is going through their medication more quickly than usual and seeking refills more often. More worrisome, they may obtain multiple prescriptions by visiting multiple doctors, which is known as suboxone doctor shopping. The addict’s personality may also seem to change and relationships may begin to suffer.
For the addict abusing the drug, suboxone can create enjoyable emotional and physical effects. Some of the pleasant effects of suboxone include reduced pain, relief from anxiety, a feeling of calm bliss/euphoria, and/or relief from cravings for their former drug of choice.
Unfortunately, these seemingly positive results only mask the potential dangers of suboxone abuse. With regular excessive use, suboxone can cause extremely low blood pressure, live damage, fainting, respiratory difficulty, and—at worst—a fatal overdose. Severe addicts may also begin injecting suboxone directly, putting themselves at risk of vascular issues. Though it is not common, suboxone can also cause a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction in exceedingly rare cases.
As with other opioids, suboxone addiction can fuel suboxone withdrawal symptoms if someone who has been taking suboxone long enough to develop physical opioid dependence suddenly stops. Opioid withdrawals, including suboxone withdrawal, are characterized by strong opioid cravings as well as flu-like symptoms, muscle pain, insomnia, anxiety, diarrhea, panic attacks, sweating, and chills.
Someone who has been misusing suboxone will usually start to experience withdrawal symptoms like muscle pains six to twelve hours after they stop taking suboxone, though these also tend to be more moderate withdrawal symptoms than would be expected in opioid withdrawal involving stronger drugs.
The acute withdrawal process will likely begin to subside six to seven days after the person stops abusing suboxone, but that is only the beginning of the battle when it comes to overcoming suboxone addiction.
Though opioid overdose involving suboxone is comparatively rare compared to overdoses on other opioids, people who take unusually large doses of suboxone or who abuse suboxone without a prior opioid use disorder, meaning they would have a lower tolerance for suboxone use.
Thus, signs of suboxone overdose should not be ignored. Since the drug can cause respiratory depression, shallow or slow breathing is the foremost warning sign, and you may also observe unconsciousness or cold clammy skin. You should contact an emergency treatment provider if you observe any of these signs in someone around you, or you may also attempt to revive the person yourself with the medication naloxone.
Whether you’ve fallen into suboxone addiction as a new user or as part of treatment for another opioid addiction, or if you’re worried about a loved one suffering from suboxone addiction, it’s not too late to seek professional help from one of your area’s suboxone treatment centers. In fact, you should start treatment as soon as possible, as substance abuse usually only becomes more entrenched over time.
At RECO Intensive in Delray Beach, FL, our compassionate team of rehabilitation experts will walk you through the process of suboxone treatment, starting with a detox program that is medically monitored and carefully designed to provide a safe experience with minimal withdrawals from suboxone. Then, you can enroll in residential care or intensive outpatient program, as is appropriate.
Through a combination of counseling and other behavioral health techniques, we’ll help you regain control of your life one step at a time. By utilizing treatment methods with proven track records like cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, and support groups as well as more holistic treatment options, we give patients suffering from drug or alcohol addiction a chance to heal their whole selves mentally, physically, and spiritually.
We can also provide treatment for any mental health disorders that may be co-morbid to your suboxone addiction, including any appropriate medication. Additionally, our outpatient treatment facility is accredited as a member of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Florida Alcohol And Drug Abuse Association,
National Association of Behavioral Health Care, and as a Behavioral Health Certificate of Excellence recipient.
To learn more about suboxone addiction treatment at our Delray Beach treatment center, or to get started on your journey to sobriety, contact us online today or call us at 561.808.7986. There’s no day like today to get back on the road to a brighter future.
Discover a better life and call our recovery helpline today.