Is Suboxone addictive? Signs and Symptoms

Drug and substance abuse is a prevalent issue in society today; many people, especially youths, are struggling with the abuse of a lot of hard substances due to one factor or the other. Addiction does not just start in a day; some individuals began using the drugs as a prescribed medication but then developed a psychological compulsion for it and couldn’t let go.

Suboxone can be highly addictive when it is used as the only treatment without getting any other comprehensive treatment.

Addiction, most of the time, starts with the legitimate use of the substance. People who are addicted to drugs and other substances keep using them despite the fact that they harm them both physically and psychologically. The point is that addiction is the loss of control of a particular thing by an individual despite the damage it might be causing.

 There are different causes of addiction as well as different symptoms exhibited by addicts. Some of these causes are; Heredity, trauma and pain, peer pressure, mental illness, and so on.

 A few symptoms that accompany addiction are; not being able to control the urge and use of a particular substance despite knowing the repercussions of taking such substance, having withdrawal symptoms when the individual is not able to have access to the substance, and so on.

In this article, we would be discussing a drug called Suboxone and examine if it’s an addictive drug. If at all addictive, we would also be looking into the signs and symptoms.

What is Suboxone?

It is vital first to understand the chemical composition and breakdown of the drug, Suboxone. It is a drug used for individuals who are trying to break off their addiction to opioids. Suboxone helps to reduce or prevent the pains that come with withdrawing from opioid addiction.

The next question that may come to mind is, what are opioids? Opioids are the name for a particular class of drugs. The drugs in this class are; synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl, Heroin, Codeine, morphine, other legally prescribed pain relievers, and so on. It is a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat opioid use disorder (OUD).

Suboxone is made of naloxone an opioid blocker, it inhibits the effects of opioids, and nuprenorphine a partial-agonist opioid, it doesn't produce the same level of euphoria.

What Is The make-up And Usage Of Suboxone?

Suboxone is a combination of two different ingredients; these two ingredients are Buprenorphine and Naloxone. Buprenorphine and naloxone are the two active ingredients in Suboxone. The non-active ingredients are; acesulfame Potassium, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, polyethylene oxide, lime flavor, maltitol, FD&C yellow, citric acid, white ink, and sodium citrate.

The drug comes in an oral form and is usually used sublingually or buccally. It is available in a generic form which comes both in an oral film and an oral tablet. Sublingually means that it has to be placed under the tongue; buccally implies that the drug is used by being placed between the gums and the cheek. The drug is to be left to dissolve in the mouth and not to be swallowed.

Both buprenorphine and naloxone play their own role in suboxone. Buprenorphine helps in reducing the withdrawal symptoms that individuals going through the treatment for opioid addiction may have. It is also commonly known as an opioid partial agonist. Naloxone, on the other hand, helps to reduce or reverse the effects of opioids.

The drug plays a significant role in helping individuals who are getting treatment for opioid addiction. The medication can be prescribed in four strengths. The four strengths Suboxone is available in are; 12-milligram buprenorphine and 3-milligram naloxone; 8-milligram buprenorphine and 2-milligram naloxone; 4-milligram buprenorphine and 1-milligram naloxone, and 2-milligram buprenorphine / 0.5-milligram naloxone.

 It is known as a Schedule three (Ciii) drug because it is a prescription medication that is also targeted by those who abuse prescription drugs or street drugs. The drug is usually prescribed by a doctor or pharmacist trained on the usage of the drug.

Suboxone is usually used in the initial stages of treating opioid addiction. These stages include; 

  1. The withdrawal or detox stage. In this stage, the symptoms been exhibited by the individual are usually highly pronounced, serious, and very dangerous. What the drug does in this stage is to help reduce the opioid withdrawal symptoms and then, in the end, totally help in overcoming the opioid withdrawal symptom. In this stage, the opioid is totally eased off the individual.
  1. The next stage is the counseling, therapy, and maintenance stage. In this stage, the individual goes through counseling and therapy in order to help his psychological well-being and get to the root cause of why he started using the medication.  This helps the individual get better, and the Suboxone medication would be gradually reduced by the skilled health practitioner until there is no need for the use of the drug again.

Is Suboxone Addictive?

However, it has been scientifically proven and tested that generally, the chances of an individual getting addicted to Suboxone are very low because of the scientific makeup of the drug.  Buprenorphine, for instance, has a mild effect on its user, and it also takes time before the individual can feel its impact; people tend to abuse drugs that can travel fast and have an effect on the brain.

One of the ingredients of Suboxone, known as Buprenorphine, is what is targeted mainly by individuals addicted to prescribed medication in Suboxone. This is because it has the same effect using opioids have, but very mild.  Suboxone when used according to the direction and supervision of a doctor or the health caregiver.

An opioid user who is getting suboxone as a means of treatment can become addicted and dependent on the drug if not adequately monitored. Just like any other drug that eases pain and serves as a form of help for discomfort, it is easy to get hooked on it if there is no medical monitoring or assistance.

The chance of an individual getting addicted to Suboxone is very high when he relies only on the drug for treatment without getting any other comprehensive treatment. Suboxone is meant to be used alongside other methods of opioid addiction treatment.

Just like the short-term and long-term effects other opioid drugs or hard substances generally have when abused, the abuse and addiction to Suboxone can cause a lot of damage.

Signs and Symptoms that Come With Misusing Suboxone

Just like the use of every drug has its symptoms, side effects, and signs of misuse, some symptoms and signs also accompany the misuse of Suboxone. We would be highlighting and discussing some of them;

  1. Having more than the required dose at a time. We have mentioned in this article that Suboxone is a prescription medication; once an individual has and uses more than the prescribed medication at once, it is a sign that such a person is beginning to overdose and is getting addicted to the drug.
  2. Putting up unusual behaviour. Once the individual starts acting irrationally and in an unusual way, there is a high chance that he has started abusing or getting addicted to the medication. An example of this irrational behaviour is;  if he is before using the drug very restless but becomes calm after using it.
  3. Overdosing and death: Despite how mild the drug’s effect is on an individual, it still has the opioid effect.  Elongated use of the drug would result in dependence on the drug. Addiction to the drug can cause; overdosing, coma, and in the long run, death. Overdosing most time occurs when the drug is used with other addictive substances like alcohol and so on.
  4. Breathing and respiratory problems: Overdosing on the drug can lead to serious breathing and heart problems.
  5. Withdrawal Symptoms: Because it is a prescription drug, it is best that even when an individual wants to stop its use, the health care worker should be the one to take him off it gradually. Sudden withdrawal from taking the drug can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, nausea, muscle ache, and so on.

Other symptoms include the individual having a very slow impulse and reflex response, slowed breathing, slurred speech, constant loss of consciousness, very uncoordinated, irrational, nausea, numbness in the legs, constipation, etc.

Treatment for Suboxone Addiction

It sounds pretty ironic that the same drug used as part of the treatment for an addiction can also become an addiction, although the chances are very low. There are also treatments available to individuals who have become addicted to and abusing Suboxone.

The first step would be to detox and ease the person off the drug. The next step is to start counseling and therapy for such an individual to get to the root psychological cause of why the individual started taking the medication. The final stage is giving the person after-care treatments that would help in the long run.

It is important to note that just like in getting treatments for other drug addictions, individuals trying to get treatment for suboxone addiction would also experience withdrawal symptoms. Some of these symptoms are; stomach ache, sleeplessness, restlessness, signs of extreme tiredness, mood swings and irritability, excessive sweating and shaking, heart issues, nervousness or anxiety, etc.

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