According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 841,00 deaths were reported due to drug overdose between 1999 and 2019, with more than 70% of overdose deaths in 2019 involving an opioid drug. This includes commonly abused opioids such as prescription pain medication and heroin along with synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Overdoses involving opioids led to the deaths of nearly 50,000 people in 2019, and approximately 73% of those deaths involved the use of synthetic opioids.
Suboxone Use in Recovery
Suboxone is an FDA-approved prescription medication used in the treatment of opioid dependence and addiction which contains a combination of the drugs buprenorphine and naloxone. Suboxone was created to address and lessen the symptoms of the withdrawal process that occur when those with physical dependence or addiction to opioid drugs, including heroin, morphine, fentanyl, and oxycodone, stop taking them abruptly.
Although Suboxone can be an effective drug that aids in recovery from opiate dependence, it is also a drug that is often taken for long periods of time after an addict has stopped using other opioids. Suboxone alone can also be misused and become addictive, and as a partial opioid agonist, it produces similar withdrawal effects to other opioids if it is quit “cold turkey” without medical assistance.
What is Buprenorphine?
Buprenorphine is classified as a partial opioid agonist, meaning that it works in the same manner as an opioid to a certain extent but with a weaker effect than full opioid agonists such as heroin, fentanyl, and methadone. It also has a “ceiling effect” so the opioid effects level off even with further dose increases, which is intended to reduce the risk of misuse, dependency, and severe side effects. Buprenorphine is used to lessen the effects of opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings to use opioids without having the full opioid potency or effects itself. This is intended to help people who take the medication abstain from using other opioids.
What is Naloxone?
Naloxone is a drug used in combination with buprenorphine in Suboxone due to its properties as an opioid antagonist or “blocker” which interferes with or reverses the ability of the body’s opioid receptors to produce the pleasurable effects, or “high”, of opioid drugs.
Naloxone in the form of Suboxone is administered during medically-assisted treatment programs to patients undergoing detox from opioid drugs and who have been free of any opiates for a minimum of 7-10 days but may need additional treatment for withdrawal symptoms. It can not be used by those still currently using opiates, as doing so could cause severe acute withdrawal symptoms. Naloxone is also known as the active ingredient in Norcan, a medication used to counteract the effects of opiods during life-threatening overdose situations.
The Risk for Developing a Dependence on Suboxone
Continuous use of opioid drugs over the long term results in changes in pathways of the brain, and long-term users have a higher probability of developing a substance abuse disorder to similar drugs. For example, a heroin addict using Suboxone during heroin detox may more quickly develop a physical dependence on Suboxone than someone who was addicted to another, non-opioid class of drug and who then began using Suboxone. Although Suboxone was initially developed as a treatment option for opioid addiction, it is now known to be addictive as a standalone drug that in many cases may require professional medical help to detox from opioid use entirely.
Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms
Tapering down the doseage of any opioid medication is essential in easing the symptoms of withdrawal; however, detoxing without the assistance of medical professionals is not generally recommended. Those who attempt the detox process on their own are more prone to relapse due to an inability to cope with cravings, lack of a dedicated treatment and aftercare plan, and both the psychological and physical problems that can co-occur alongside withdrawal symptoms. In addition, tolerance levels in some users may quickly diminish during the detox process and, in the case of a relapse, attempting to administer even small doses of opioids to cope with withdrawal may potentially lead to overdose or death. Signs and symptoms of Suboxone withdrawal may vary widely depending on factors such as the tolerance one has to the drug that has been built up over repeated use and the amount of time that has elapsed since the drug was last used. Common symptoms of Suboxone withdrawal are similar to that of other opioid drugs, and may include:
- Muscles aches and pains
- Nausea or vomiting
- Runny nose
- Stomach cramps and diarrhea
- Tremors or twitching
- Red, watery eyes
Help With Suboxone Detox Treatment is Possible
Those who use Suboxone should do so only as prescribed by a medical provider, as misuse can lead to unintentional and sometimes severe consequences which may prove fatal. If you find yourself questioning your or a loved one’s Suboxone usage, are concerned about health issues it may be causing, and would like to discuss a detox treatment plan, support is available.
Article source: www.briarwooddetox.com