Suboxone is often mentioned in relation to the opioid crisis, but not many people truly know what it is and how it’s used for medication assisted treatment.
When used correctly, Suboxone can be a powerful addition to addiction recovery. However, most patients who come to us, believing that they want to take Suboxone, have only heard of it from their friends or the internet.
In this post, we’ll walk through the chemical makeup of Suboxone, what to expect once it’s prescribed and how to maintain its effectiveness.
What Is Suboxone?
Suboxone consists of two specific medications, Buprenorphine and Naloxone, combined to treat opioid dependence.
Buprenorphine is classified as a partial opioid agonist. An agonist initiates a physiological response when combined with a receptor.
Naloxone is a synthetic drug which blocks opiate receptors in the central nervous system. It is classified as an opioid antagonist.
A main concern with Buprenorphine are that it is easier to be abused due it simulating a “high.” However, Naloxone is added because it prevents an individual from “getting high” from opioids because the receptors are blocked.
Even though an individual may be abstinent from opioids, they can still experience cravings or obsesses over using.
Like any medication used for opioid abuse, it’s best used while in a treatment program and with the proper accountability from a dedicated physician, counselor or trusted family member.
How Are You Prescribed Suboxone?
Suboxone is typically recommended when the patient has stopped using opioids and no longer has the presence of opioids in their body.
Prescriptions are regulated by the Drug Enforcement Agency with doctors being required to attend an eight hour training about the medication. Doctors are also required to keep detailed records of prescriptions and are limited to the number of patients they can treat.
From there, pharmacists are able to confirm a patients’ medication in a national database and ensure that the doctor on the slip is legally able to prescribe it.
While there are advantages of taking this medication to aid in recovery, it’s important to remember that it’s only one tool in an entire box of skills that makes medication assisted treatment effective.
What To Expect With Suboxone
It’s a scary decision to start Suboxone Treatment for fear of it not working or the fear of being sick.
In the first 24-72 hours of taking Suboxone, you may experience:
However, for the majority of patients, these side effects tend to be mild and usually subside quickly.
After 72 hours, most patients report improved well-being and fewer cravings and thoughts about using. This is a critical time to watch out for overconfidence. Feeling better does not mean you are cured.
Medication is not the cure to opioid dependence. It gives you the opportunity to focus on the counseling and education side of treatment, which will help you maintain long-term sobriety after you are off the medication.
The early stages of recovery are highly sensitive, so we require patients to dose daily at MedPro Treatment Centers until we have built a relationship of trust. Once a level of accountability has been established, the option for take-home medication may be available.
What we don’t want, is a patient believing that they feel better, build a false-confidence only to relapse. It’s better to approach treatment, medication and all, slowly and work with your team of doctors and counselors through each phase of recovery.
Two Factors That Reduce The Effectiveness of Suboxone
The most common reason for Suboxone to lose its effectiveness happens when a patient is not taking the medication as prescribed. This happens in two ways with medication non-compliance and using other substances.
There are reasons each including severe implications for recovery. Like any medication, it’s only beneficial is used exactly how it’s prescribed. A danger of prescriptions in the age of the internet, is that some patients turn to online groups and forums to find the answers they want.
Instead, Suboxone patients should seek out their doctor and counselors for the information they need in order to maintain a positive recovery.
Non-compliance with means multiple things, with the first being to completely skip their dose of Suboxone.
Why would someone miss doses?
Well, there are two main reasons for missing Suboxone doses. The first reason is the cost of Suboxone. It is very expensive and sometimes the individual will try to stretch out their prescription to make it last longer.
The second reason is because they are using Suboxone to control their opioid use, without abstaining completely from opioids. A patient may stop taking Suboxone on Thursday, so that it’s out of their system enough to use over the weekend. Then, when Monday rolls around, they start taking their Suboxone again to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
Manipulating your doses of Suboxone to still be able to use illicitly gives you a false sense of control over your using.
Once you are no longer prescribed Suboxone, you will typically return to using just like before. The choice to stop taking Suboxone may not be yours if your prescribing physician figures out that you’re still using opioids or abusing your Suboxone. They can — and most likely will — stop treating you.
Using Other Substances
Another factor that affects the effectiveness of Suboxone is using substances such as alcohol, marijuana and sleep aids with on the medication.
Some patients are under the impression that because they didn’t have an addiction to substances like alcohol, they can drink while on Suboxone without any repercussions. However, mixing Suboxone and opioid-like substances can dilute your medication and increase chances of relapse.
Unfortunately, the rates of abusing prescription Suboxone is much higher than prescription Methadone abuse. This is because there is much less accountability with Suboxone. If you do not have accountability at home or in a treatment program, Suboxone may not be right for you.
How Suboxone Can Work for You
For the addict who has eliminated opioids from their system and is ready to be an active participant in their recovery, Suboxone may be the best option. While no medication is a cure-all, Suboxone can deliver significant benefits for those who have lost all hope.
If you’re interested in medication assisted treatment, contact us at MedPro Treatment Centers to start your recovery journey now.