Suboxone is a prescription medication that may be used to help people recover from opioid dependence and addiction. However, Suboxone is also an opioid with the potential to become habit-forming—meaning people who misuse this drug or use it for a prolonged time can eventually develop an addiction.
At Indiana Center for Recovery, we offer medically supervised detox and behavioral therapies to help people recover from Suboxone dependence and addiction. Continue reading to learn more about the effects of Suboxone and about the treatments we may use to help people addicted to this medication.
What Is Suboxone and How Does It Work?
Suboxone is the brand name of a combination drug that contains buprenorphine and naloxone. The FDA approves this medication for the treatment of opioid dependence. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, it helps reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings, reduces the potential for misuse, and increases safety during a drug overdose.
Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which means it binds partially to opioid receptors in the brain instead of fully preventing users from experiencing the full effects of opioids, including euphoria and pleasure.
Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, which means it can block or reverse the effects of opioids. In other words, people on naloxone who use other opioids like heroin or oxycodone will not experience the effects of those opioids.
Suboxone is typically prescribed to people in recovery from opioid use disorders, as it helps them stay sober and avoid relapse. According to a study published in the Ochsner Journal, intoxication from Suboxone occurs only in certain instances, such as when people misuse it, combine it with other substances, or reduce withdrawal symptoms between episodes of full-agonist opioid (e.g., heroin, morphine, methadone) abuse.
Addiction is a chronic disease that affects millions of people around the world. It is also a complex condition that requires comprehensive treatment. One approach that has been proven to be effective in treating addiction is medication-assisted treatment (or “MAT”). This approach combines medication with behavioral therapy and support to help people overcome their addiction—whether it’s to alcohol, opioids, or something else. MAT utilizes a variety of medications, including methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone, which are all FDA-approved for the treatment of opioid use disorder. These medications work by targeting the same receptors in the brain that opioids do, but they do not produce the same euphoric effects. Instead, they reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms and cravings in patients, making it easier for people to focus on recovery and maintain sobriety. The immediate benefit of MAT is reduction of withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can be very uncomfortable and, without proper management, they can lead to relapse. The use of medication in MAT helps alleviate alcohol and drug withdrawal symptoms, making it easier for people to transition into a drug-free life. Methadone, for example, is a long-acting opioid agonist that can help reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist that can also reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings, but it has a lower risk of overdose than methadone. And, Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of opioids and can reduce the risk of relapse. Another benefit of MAT is the reduction of cravings. Cravings can be one of the most difficult challenges in addiction recovery, and they can persist for years after sobriety is achieved. Medications like methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone work by blocking or reducing the intensity of cravings, which helps people maintain their sobriety and avoid relapse. A third benefit is that MAT can also improve the overall quality of life for those with substance use disorders. With the help of medication and therapy, people can manage their addiction symptoms and get back to their daily routine, whether that means returning to work, school, or other activities that they enjoy. MAT can also improve mental health outcomes, as it can help reduce anxiety and depression associated with addiction. MAT is most effective when combined with behavioral therapy and support, such as peer support and recovery groups. Behavioral therapy can help people learn coping skills and strategies for managing triggers and stressors that can lead to relapse. And peer support and recovery groups provide a sense of community, which can be critical in maintaining long-term sobriety. Dual diagnosis and mental health issues can also be addressed through MAT as we cover in another video. Whether you have addiction, another mental health disorder, or both—medication management and adherence are critical components of MAT. It is essential to take medication as prescribed to reduce the risk of relapse. Adherence to medication and harm reduction practices can support recovery and reduce the chance of overdose. It is important to work with a healthcare provider to find the right medication and dosage that works for each individual. That’s why facilities like ours use personalized medicine and evidence-based methods of MAT to give people the best chance of recovery. MAT has already been proven to be effective in treating opioid use disorder. Studies show that people who receive buprenorphine treatment for opioid use disorder have higher rates of treatment retention and abstinence from opioids than those who received non-medication treatment. Other studies have found that people who receive methadone treatment for opioid use disorder had lower rates of mortality than those who did not receive medication-assisted treatment. While MAT has been most commonly used for opioid use disorder, it has also been effective in treating other substance use disorders, like alcoholism. For example, medications like acamprosate and naltrexone have been useful in reducing alcohol cravings and preventing relapse in people with alcohol use disorder. One of the barriers to accessing MAT is stigma. Some people view medication-assisted treatment as just replacing one addiction with another. Really, this is a misconception. Medications used in MAT are not addictive, and they are not used to achieve a “high.” Instead, they are used to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings, making it easier for people to focus on recovery and maintain sobriety. MAT is not a one-size-fits-all approach to addiction treatment. It’s important to work with a healthcare provider to find the right medication and dosage that works for you or your loved one. And medication may not be part of life forever. Some people may need to be on medication only for a few months, while others may need to be on medication for several years. It is also important to receive ongoing therapy and support while using medications to address the underlying issues that can also contribute to addiction. Overall, medication-assisted treatment is a proven approach to relieving addiction. It combines medication with behavioral therapy and other supports. The use of medication in MAT has major benefits: It can reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings, improve quality of life for those with substance use disorders, and support a long, happy recovery free from painful symptoms and complications. MAT may make you much more comfortable in treatment. So, ask future providers about your options for MAT.
Signs of Suboxone Addiction
People who struggle with addiction to any substance, including Suboxone, usually exhibit the same set of behaviors. Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug-using behaviors that are often difficult to control despite negative consequences, reports the NIDA.
Signs of Suboxone addiction may include:
- Using Suboxone in ways other than prescribed, such as using it with alcohol or other sedatives or taking extra doses
- Using Suboxone without a prescription or using Suboxone prescribed for someone else
- Inability to control Suboxone use or reduce use
- Spending lots of time obtaining Suboxone, using it, and recovering from its effects
- Experiencing strong cravings, desires, and urges to use Suboxone
- Using Suboxone repeatedly even when it interferes with important obligations related to work, school, or family
- Using Suboxone repeatedly even though doing so is contributing to persistent social or relationship problems
- Giving up long-held hobbies and favorite activities to use Suboxone in their place
- Using Suboxone in situations when doing so is physically hazardous
- Using Suboxone despite knowing it’s causing or worsening physical and psychological health problems
- Having a higher tolerance for Suboxone or experienced diminished effects when using the usual amount
- Experiencing Suboxone withdrawal syndrome when abruptly discontinuing this drug or using lower amounts
What Are the Dangers Associated with Suboxone Addiction?
Suboxone addiction increases the risk for an overdose, especially when this medication is mixed with other substances. Alcohol, benzodiazepines, and barbiturates are all sedative drugs that can lead to dangerous consequences when used with Suboxone. When misused, Suboxone can lead to slowed breathing and heart rate, just like that associated with misuse of other opioids.
The NIDA reports that in 2019, 49,860 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States related to opioids, including Suboxone. Some of these deaths also involved sedatives, including benzodiazepines.
When left untreated, Suboxone addiction can potentially lead to misuse of other more potent drugs and opioids such as heroin and fentanyl—especially when users want to experience a more powerful high or euphoric effect. Addiction to any type of drug can reduce the quality of life, especially when it leads to other serious health problems, career and financial losses, and strained relationships with friends and family.
What Is Suboxone Withdrawal?
Suboxone withdrawal refers to the set of symptoms a person may experience when they suddenly discontinue this medication after becoming physically dependent on it.
According to the National Library of Medicine, Suboxone withdrawal symptoms include:
- Tearing eyes
- Runny nose
- Hot or cold flushes
- Muscle and joint pain
- Nausea and vomiting
Suboxone withdrawal symptoms may last several days or longer based on factors such as the severity of the addiction, the patient’s overall health status, and whether they use Suboxone with other substances.
Treatment Options for Suboxone Addiction
Addiction to Suboxone can be safely and effectively treated using evidence-based therapies in a drug rehab program. At Indiana Center for Recovery, we treat Suboxone addiction using medically supervised detox and various behavioral therapies.
Suboxone detox manages the physical symptoms of withdrawal. We usually set up a tapering schedule that involves reducing a patient’s daily dosage of Suboxone gradually over time until they are no longer physically dependent on the medication. If a patient is also addicted to other substances such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, we may modify Suboxone detox treatment accordingly to reduce the risk of other withdrawal syndromes and potential complications.
Our detox treatments are administered in a safe, relaxing environment where patients are closely monitored by nurses and doctors for the duration of withdrawal. We may use other medications to reduce the severity of any other symptoms present during the detox stage.
After completing Suboxone detox, many of our patients transition into a residential rehab program or one of our outpatient programs. We offer a partial hospitalization program (PHP) and intensive outpatient program (IOP) to patients who can live at home while receiving day treatment at our facility. Our outpatient programs are ideal for patients who have safe, stable living environments without access to drugs and alcohol and patients who want to continue working or caring for their families while receiving therapy.
All behavioral therapies at Indiana Center for Recovery are scientifically proven to help people recover from addiction. The goal of therapy is to teach patients how to manage stress and other triggers without relying on drugs and alcohol. We also help patients change harmful thoughts and behaviors related to drug use. All our rehab programs are customized and tailored to each patient based on their unique situation related to addiction.
We Can Help You Recover from Suboxone Addiction
Contact Indiana Center For Recovery at (844) 650-0064 to learn more about our Suboxone drug rehab programs. Our goal is to help you or your loved one experience a comfortable recovery from drug dependence and achieve long-lasting recovery from addiction.
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