Are you familiar with Suboxone? Do you know the facts? Suboxone is considered Medication Assisted Treatment, which is medical treatment by a licensed physician.
It’s important to know that an opioid use disorder is a medical diagnosis and some form of treatment is needed in most cases.
Suboxone is a medication containing buprenorphine and naloxone, which is used to treat opioid dependence. Buprenorphine is an opioid medication and naloxone is a medication used to block the effects of opioids.
Suboxone Facts: What You Need to Know
Suboxone is only prescribed to treat opioid dependence, but it has been known to aid in pain management. Therefore, pain management is a benefit of Suboxone treatment.
This medication may be a viable option for you if you’ve already stopped drug use, but continue to experience cravings or withdrawal symptoms.
Suboxone can be prescribed and dispensed in a clinic setting or prescribed by a specially trained physician in an office. The prescription is then filled at your local pharmacy the same day.
How Does Suboxone Work?
Buprenorphine fills the same receptors that opioids do, which sends messages to the brain that you don’t need the drug because it is satisfied.
Naloxone blocks the sedating effects of the buprenorphine and any other opioids in the body. So, if a patient decides to use heroin or take hydrocodone, they’ll get no effect from it.
Usually, within a week of treatment, the patient will see improvement in appearance, which includes complexion, weight gain, a healthier appetite, and alertness. They feel better without the drugs and become more active.
Suboxone is prescribed on an outpatient basis. One benefit is that it’s generally prescribed monthly, taking up less time and it is more convenient.
But a patient that is seen only once a month, has less accountability with the treating physician. This can often lead to non-compliance with medication.
When Suboxone is not taken as prescribed and doses are missed, the individual may sporadically use their drug of choice to compensate. This can give the patient a false sense of control over their addiction. They can use opioids, then start taking the Suboxone again and avoid withdrawal.
It’s best to have family involved in the patient’s recovery and hold the patient accountable for taking their medication daily.
Starting Suboxone Treatment
When starting Suboxone treatment, your initial dose is usually between 4mg and 8 mg. Your dose will be adjusted until you reach a therapeutic level specific to you. The good news is that a tolerance to Suboxone is not developed.
Once you reach a therapeutic dose, there should be no reason for future increases in your dose. Once you are ready to be tapered off Suboxone, the taper will need to be supervised by the prescribing physician.
If you quit Suboxone cold turkey, the withdrawal symptoms could lead you to relapse. This is another reason why compliance with the treatment plan is important for recovery.
Common Myths About Suboxone
Like most medications, there are many myths about Suboxone. Some people think that Suboxone is a cure for opioid addiction.
It’s a useful tool to aid in recovery, but it’s not a cure.
Many people also think you’re not really sober if you are taking Suboxone. This is also not true.
To understand this, we have to look at the nature of opioid dependence at the biological level.
Opioids work by attaching to the body’s natural opioid receptor sites found in the brain, spinal cord, GI tract, and various other places in the body.
These receptor sites are typically filled by endogenous, or naturally produced in the body, neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers called endorphins.
When the opioid user begins taking opioids, after a time, the body stops naturally creating those endorphins, distorting brain chemistry. In the absence of naturally produced endorphins, the brain interprets this absence as a crisis.
Suboxone fills these receptor sites, allowing the brain to relax, which assists in recovery.
Additionally, Suboxone is a medication prescribed by a physician specially trained in treating addiction. In the first paragraph we mentioned that naloxone prevents the effects of getting high.
Another myth is that Suboxone can’t be abused. While you can’t get high on Suboxone, people can avoid taking the medication for a couple of days, get high, and then return to taking their Suboxone to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Suboxone is also very sought after on the streets. It can be traded for other drugs or sold for money. This is why accountability is important when receiving Medication Assisted Treatment. Accountability can come from your physician, counselor, support group, and family.
Suboxone and the Recovery Process
Suboxone treatment doesn’t guarantee sobriety, but it’s definitely an effective tool for a successful recovery.
Along with medication, the patient is recommended to receive additional services such as individual or group counseling, support group meetings, address any mental health issues, and learn about relapse prevention. They also need to work on improving life skills such as effective communication, healthy boundaries, goal setting, and conflict resolution.
The level of success in recovery is dependent on your investment in your treatment, and the investment in yourself. You have probably never treated anyone as bad as you treated yourself. It is time to change that. You deserve better. You deserve to be sober.