What is Suboxone Addiction?
Suboxone is a prescription medication which is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. It is used to treat opioid addiction, in particular addictions to heroin and narcotic painkillers. Opioid addiction is an unpleasant condition whereby an individual is often addicted to the pleasurable feeling that opioid produce, and when they stop taking the drug it causes changes to their moods and their personality. Buprenorphine belongs to a family of drugs that together are known as opioid partial antagonists. These drugs, when administered correctly, will help relieve the symptoms of opiate withdrawal. Naloxone is from a family of drugs known as opioid antagonists, which reverse the ‘desirable’ effects that people who take narcotics hope to achieve. The combination of the two drugs together allows for a reduction in withdrawal symptoms and a decrease in the frequency and intensity of cravings in the individual who is addicted to opiates. Suboxone is often used as a safer alternative to methadone as it is easier to monitor the levels and safely reduce the individual’s intake until they are no longer addicted. Whereas methadone is highly addictive and more ‘powerful’ than Suboxone it can often be more beneficial to an individual who is addicted to opiates to be placed on Suboxone as it is less likely that they will become addicted to it in place of their original addiction.
Facts concerning Suboxone use
The first large-scale study that looked at the effectiveness of Suboxone use for treating addiction to prescription opioids was conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and it found that Suboxone, without the addition of intensive counseling to the detox regime, can in some instances be effective therapy on its own. The study was conducted on 650 individuals who were all addicted to prescription painkillers. All participants in the study received Suboxone, with half of them receiving intensive counseling sessions in addition to the drug. Over the 12 weeks that the study was conducted 49% of patients were able to reduce their prescription painkiller abuse. There are a wealth of studies that support the argument that in the short-term Suboxone use is the best detox method there is, although there are still a lot of concerns regarding its viability as a long-term solution. As such it is always advised that individuals fully co-operate with their health care providers in order to make the detox process as smooth and as fast as possible.
Suboxone Use and the Detox Process
When people are dependent on opiates and they suddenly stop taking them, their opioid-tolerant central nervous system will go haywire and cause one of the most agonizing experience that an individual could ever go through – opiate withdrawal. Symptoms of opiate withdrawal include anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, diarrhea, aching muscles and limbs, hot and cold sweats and chills, irritability, gastrointestinal distress, vomiting, and Restless Legs Syndrome. A quick and dependable fix for stopping this withdrawal process is to Suboxone use to help combat the opiate dependency. After an individual who is addicted to opiatestakes a dose of Suboxone, the buprenorphine binds to the opioid receptors, and if a strong enough dose is taken, then the withdrawal symptoms and the opiate cravings that individual is suffering will either be eliminated altogether or failing that be drastically reduced.
In order for Suboxone to be used safely in the detox progress, there are guidelines that ought to be followed. Firstly, Suboxone should not be taken too soon after an individual’s last dose of narcotics as it can trigger precipitated withdrawal, which essentially means that taking Suboxone could have the opposite effect than desired and induce quite severe withdrawal symptoms. As such, Suboxone should not be taken until other opioid drugs have completely left a user’s body. This time frame will differ from person to person and is dependent on a number of factors, including an individual’s genetic disposition and personal physiology. Secondly, it is not just the timing of the Suboxone use that it is important, the dosage that is taken is also crucial. The appropriate dosage will of course vary from person to person and it is the role of healthcare professionals to determine what that would be. This again is dependent on a variety of factors the most important ones being how long an individual has been using opiates, the kind of opiates that they have been using, and the frequency that they were taking opiates, whether it was on a daily basis etc. Once these factors have been determined then health care professionals will be able to prescribe a dosage which should be a sufficient strength in order to stop the withdrawal process and allow individuals to function normally.
There is always the risk that if an individual is prescribed too high of a dose of Suboxone then the detox process will last for an elongated period of time. Some people who have been prescribed a high dose initially can often find it incredibly difficult to reduce their intake even with the assistance of healthcare professionals and as a result of this may find themselves on Suboxone for a number of years.