Suboxone is a combination of Buprenorphine and Naloxone in film form. A partial agonist and opioid receptor activator, Suboxone treatment has the ability to push heroin and other opioids out of opioid receptors, stick to these receptors and prevent users from experiencing the addicting effects of opioids.
Suboxone is used for the treatment of opioid dependence in combination with psychosocial support and counseling. Although buprenorphine, the active ingredient in Suboxone, activates opioid receptors, it does not stimulate them enough to produce euphoria, drowsiness or analgesic sensations.
- Instead, the buprenorphine in Suboxone triggers receptor activity just enough to stop recovering addicts from feeling sick.
Suboxone treatment is now done by placing a “film-like” tablet under the tongue. These Suboxone film strips are taken by recovering opioid addicts as part of their treatment plan to help reduce cravings and opioid withdrawal symptoms. Containing both naloxone and buprenorphine (unlike Subutex which contains only buprenorphine), Suboxone is codified under DATA (Drug Addiction Treatment Act) as a prescription drug that can only be prescribed by qualifying physicians who have notified the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of their intent to treat opioid dependence with Suboxone. In addition to passing clinical trial expectations, Suboxone has also been found to be high effective at treating prescription pain pill addiction in a primary care setting. Suboxone tablets were discontinued in 2012 to further reduce the risk of abuse by recovering addicts.
Buprenorphine is responsible for Suboxone withdrawal symptoms, which vary in type and intensity according to individual factors. Initial doses of Suboxone require addicts to be in a state of moderate withdrawal. Dosage amounts are adjusted until the addict experiences optimal effects.
Drug tests will only detect Suboxone in a person’s system if the test is specifically searching for the presence of buprenorphine. This means that recovering addicts being treated with Suboxone do not have to worry about failing drugs tests when looking for employment.
Commonly reported withdrawal symptoms include
- anxiety, body aches
- trouble concentrating
These symptoms typically lessen within a 10 to 14 days of stopping Suboxone and may be treated with over the counter medications and counseling.
Suboxone Doctors and Clinics
The SAMSHA website provides a map for finding Suboxone doctors and clinics in each state. Additionally, most health insurances have lists of physicians certified to prescribe Suboxone for treating opioid addictions.
Naloxone is an opiate antagonist, not a partial agonist like buprenorphine. Instead of filling and activating receptors, Naloxone fills but does not activate receptors. When an addict’s opioid receptors are filled with Naloxone, the addict will experience rapid, intense withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and headache.
In the past, Suboxone users could crush tablets, mix the powder with water and inject the drug to get high. Now that only Suboxone sublingual film is available, the risk of recovering addicts abusing Suboxone has dramatically reduced. Only by ingesting large amounts of Suboxone film are addicts able to feel high.
Suboxone abuse is uncommon today because Suboxone combines buprenorphine and naloxone into one medication. This also allows physicians to provide recovering opioid addicts with take-home doses of Suboxone for easier administration. Alternately, methadone must be given as one daily dose since it stimulates opioid receptors and increases the risk of addicts abusing the medication.
Commonly reported side effects of taking Suboxone sublingual film include:
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Excessive perspiration
- Sleep disturbances
More serious side effects may emerge from a rare allergic reaction and involve:
- Difficulty breathing
- Extreme drowsiness
- Tingling of feet and hands
Video – “Suboxone – How It Works”
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