The Benefits of Suboxone Treatment for Opiate Addiction

Suboxone is a type of medication used to treat the symptoms of withdrawal from opioid dependence. Suboxone treatment is typically prescribed as part of a complete rehabilitation regimen that includes psychological counseling. Fewer than 25 percent of patients who are addicted to heroin or another opiate are able to successfully quit “cold turkey.” With the help of this treatment, these patients are able to succeed in abstaining from substance abuse, since the medication works to curb withdrawal side effects and subsequent cravings.

How Does Suboxone Work?
Suboxone is a prescription medicine that combines buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist, and naloxone, an opioid blocker. Like an opioid, a partial opioid agonist acts on the brain’s opioid receptors. Unlike these drugs, however, buprenorphine does not result in the euphoric feeling the user associates with a “high.” That allows for the prevention of the physical side effects caused by drug withdrawal without the associated pleasurable feelings caused by the abused substance. Naloxone, on the other hand, produces severe withdrawal symptoms when it is crushed or snorted, so it is combined with buprenorphine to discourage the abuse of this treatment regimen.

How Is Suboxone Treatment Dispensed?
Because this is a long-acting medication, it only needs to be taken once a day, either as a 2 mg or 8 mg tablet or a 2 mg or 8 mg film strip that dissolves under the tongue. The filmstrip also includes a serial number to prevent diversion of the medication. Patients shouldn’t drink, eat, or smoke within 30 minutes of their daily dose since this can prevent absorption of the medication. This treatment is not effective for those who chew or dip tobacco.

What Are the Side Effects of this Medication?
Patients typically experience a sense of calm and relaxation, but it sometimes causes less desirable side effects like constipation, insomnia, irritability, or a feeling of jitters or shakiness. Although the inclusion of naloxone reduces the potential for abuse, this substance can still be addictive if it is used without a doctor’s supervision. Those in this type of treatment will be slowly weaned from the medication after the withdrawal period subsides. Using this drug in the long-term can result in drowsiness, confusion, gastrointestinal issues, confusion, anxiety, isolation, and depression. And like heroin addiction, this can lead to financial strain and problems with work and relationships.

How Does Suboxone Treatment Fit into Recovery?
Recovery is the term for returning to a life free of opioid addiction. While Suboxone treatment is a powerful tool in the treatment of addiction, it is not effective alone. Those attempting to overcome opioid addiction should also consider counseling to understand the psychological and behavioral aspects of addiction. Inpatient or outpatient therapy comes in a variety of forms that can help alleviate the psychological mechanisms that led to addiction and treat any underlying mental health conditions that were either caused by or contributed to the abuse of opioids.