Author: Justin Mckibben
Suboxone is a medication meant to treat opiate and opioid withdrawal. It is one of two forms of the medication buprenorphine, which is an opiate agonist originally developed to treat pain problems. Suboxone works by binding to opiate receptors in the brain, which are the same receptors that morphine, heroin and other opiates bind to.
Is Suboxone Safe: How Suboxone Works
In order to better understand the risks of Suboxone use, it is important to understand how this medication works. Let us be clear, Suboxone is a narcotic. It is a semi-synthetic opioid made from a combination of two drugs:
This compound is intended for the treatment of pain, as well as for combating opioid addiction. However, what many people don’t realize it that buprenorphine is itself an opioid.
DEA reports show that the substance can be 20-30 times more potent than morphine as an analgesic; like morphine buprenorphine can create a dose-related euphoria. Like other opioids commonly abuse, buprenorphine is capable of producing a significant “high” and thus has been abused in various ways.
Now, all products containing buprenorphine are controlled substances. Given the nature of this powerful opioid, the other primary compound of Suboxone is added.
Naloxone is a pure opioid antagonist medication used to block the effects of opioids. It works by reversing the depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system. Narcan is a brand name for the medication that is commonly utilized as an overdose antidote.
But beyond being used to reverse overdoses, the addition of naloxone to products like Suboxone is with the intention of blocking the euphoric high resulting from the abuse of opioids by injection, like buprenorphine.
So when a drug like Suboxone is taken orally, just the opioid has affect. Naloxone blocks the impact of the opioid when it is injected. The primary purpose of naloxone in Suboxone is to deter intravenous abuse.
Is Suboxone Safe: How is it used?
Suboxone acts as a partial opioid agonist and diminishes cravings as well as prevents other opioids from reacting to the brain’s receptors. The drug has become a frequently utilized substance for trying to combat opioid addiction. Suboxone can come in tablet form, or in the form of a film taken sublingually, meaning dissolved under the tongue.
When taken orally or sublingually as directed, the naloxone is not absorbed and the buprenorphine acts uninhibited. However, the formulation still has potential for abuse. Published data has shown that the opioid receptor’s binding affinity to buprenorphine is higher, so the opioid typically overrides the antagonist, causing many reports to argue that naloxone is an insufficient deterrent for the injection of Suboxone for recreational abuse.
Serious dangers of Suboxone
While Suboxone may have become a mainstream tactic for combating opioid addiction, the question has become if it is as safe and effective as producers would have us believe. So when presented with the question of ‘is Suboxone safe?’ must look at a few factors.
Is Suboxone Safe: Adverse side-effects
The fact remains that Suboxone is an opioid narcotic. Therefore, the side-effects of Suboxone are essentially the same as other opioids.
Most common minor side-effects include:
- Mild dizziness
- Stomach pain
- Redness, pain or numbness in the mouth
- Trouble concentrating
Most common major side-effects include:
- Cough or hoarseness
- Feeling faint or lightheaded
- Feeling of warmth or heat
- Fever or chills
- Lower back or side pain
- Painful or difficult urination
Major side-effects suggest the individual should check with their doctor immediately.
Is Suboxone Safe: Withdrawal symptoms
The irony is that Suboxone is typically used because people are trying to stop abusing other illicit or prescription opioids but want to have something to curb the withdrawal symptoms. Yet, Suboxone is known to have its own withdrawals, and for some they are even worse.
Symptoms of Suboxone withdrawal can include:
- Body and muscle aches
- Difficulty concentrating
- Drug cravings
- Digestive distress
The physical withdrawals can peak in the first 72 hours after the last dose, and some of the more psychological symptoms can last much longer.
Is Suboxone Safe: Interactions with other drugs
Taking other drugs while on Suboxone, especially other opioids or sedatives, can actually be fatal. Combining Suboxone with other drugs can cause a very dangerous reactions that many also ignore. Drugs that are particularly dangerous with Suboxone are:
- Benzodiazepines (Benzos) such as Xanax
- Older Antihistamines
- Antipsychotics such as Zyprexa
Cocaine is also an extremely hazardous drug to combine with Suboxone because they are opposites on the spectrum of stimulant vs depressant. When you combine cocaine with Suboxone, it actually reduces the amount of buprenorphine that is in your bloodstream. With less buprenorphine in the body the effects of opioid withdrawal symptoms can be felt.
Combining cocaine with Suboxone also increases the risk of overdosing on cocaine.
If you would like more information on Suboxone, download our free E-book: 5 Things No One Tells You about Suboxone.
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Is Suboxone safe?
Suboxone may be a legal and popular alternative to some other opioids, but that doesn’t necessarily make it all that ‘safe’ to rely on. It is of course possible to overdose on Suboxone. As we said before, Suboxone combined with other drugs can also be incredibly dangerous. And at the end of the day, you can still become psychically and psychologically dependent on the drug.
In truth, Suboxone has been useful to some who have tried to get off of drugs like heroin and other dangerous opioids by providing a buffer and some method of harm reduction. But the often overlooked aspect is that Suboxone is only intended for short-term use and not long-term maintenance. When individuals use the substance for long periods of time, they become dependent on it just like any other potent narcotic. Experts insist that Suboxone and similar drugs are only effective in combination with comprehensive treatment or cognitive behavioral therapy.
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A safer and far more healthy and sustainable approach to recovery from opioid addiction is with holistic treatment that offers much more than an opioid substitute with its own adverse effects. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
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Suboxone treatment centers come in two different forms. There are the Suboxone treatment centers that use the medication as part of a maintenance program or medication management program and then there are Suboxone treatment centers that use Suboxone strictly to wean off drugs as part of a detox program.
What is Suboxone?
Suboxone is an approved medication to treat withdrawal from opiates and is one of the two forms of the medication buprenorphine, which is an opiate agonist that was originally developed to treat pain problems. What Suboxone does is it binds to the opiate receptors in the brain, which is the same exact receptor that morphine, heroin and other opiates bind to.
What makes Suboxone unique and valuable in addiction treatment centers is that it is a partial agonist. This means at low doses, Suboxone acts the same way as any other opiate by blocking pain. But as the dosage of Suboxone is increased it starts to block the opioid receptor and doesn’t allow it to be stimulated. This allows Suboxone treatment centers to stop withdrawal symptoms from other opiates will having to worry about the patient getting “high” or abusing the medication. Not only that, but Suboxone makes it almost impossible to get high off of other opiates. If someone is taking Suboxone and then tries to get high on other opiates such as morphine or OxyContin they won’t feel any of the usual euphoria.
This is why Suboxone treatment centers, both forms of them, use the medication to help people stay off of opiates for long periods of time and also to detox people off of opiates.
How do Suboxone treatment centers use Suboxone to wean off other drugs?
If an opiate addict wanted to get clean and tried to stop abruptly or go “cold turkey” he or she would go into withdrawal. The withdrawal symptoms of opiates include sweating, racing heartbeat, nausea, muscle pain, inability to sleep, anxiety, nightmares, and restlessness. Suboxone treatment centers use Suboxone to help combat these symptoms. When a patient enters into a Suboxone treatment center they will slowly start to enter into withdrawal from opiates. At that time they will be given their first dose of Suboxone. The dosage of Suboxone given at Suboxone treatment centers will be adjusted for each individual person depending on how severe the withdrawal is. After the patient is stable, each day, they will slowly be given lower and lower doses of Suboxone until they no longer need to take Suboxone at all. And this is how Suboxone treatment centers use the medication to get opiate addicts who otherwise would never get clean due to withdrawal symptoms, clean.
Goal of Suboxone treatment centers that use Suboxone to wean off opiates
Suboxone treatment centers that use Suboxone to wean off of other opiates do not in any way shape or from want a patient on Suboxone long term. The goal of a Suboxone treatment center is not manage the addiction or keep the patient on Suboxone for a long time but to, as quickly as possible, make the patient comfortable and then slowly get them clean and off all the drugs including the Suboxone.
If you or someone you love is in need of drug addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.
What is Suboxone?
It is buprenorphine with naloxone but you may know it better by its brand name of Suboxone. Suboxone is a medication used for opiate dependence. The purpose of buprenorphine is to assist individuals addicted to opiates (heroin, morphine, OxyContin, roxicodone etc.) who want to stop abusing these substances.
Individuals who are struggling with opiate addiction have to go through extreme withdrawal symptoms to finally become abstinent. These withdrawal symptoms include pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and cravings to use the drug again. Buprenorphine is sometimes used to “detox” or get people off of their pain pills or heroin while minimizing the symptoms of withdrawal. Once the withdrawal period is over, there is more than likely a period of time when the opiate addict experiences extreme cravings. These cravings can last months and put the addict at a really high risk of relapse.
Suboxone works as a combination stimulator (buprenorphine) and blocker of opiate receptors in the brain. These opiate receptors in the brain are where opiates create their euphoric effects. The buprenorphine molecule sits on the opiate receptor, weakly stimulating it and blocking it at the same time. Because it stimulates it, it decrease cravings and withdrawal symptoms and because it sits on the receptors it blocks other opiates from getting onto them.
So what is the Suboxone controversy?
Suboxone is usually prescribed through a suboxone clinic, though some doctors in private practice also prescribe Suboxone. In order to write a prescription for Suboxone, which is a Schedule III narcotic, doctors have to receive a waiver, which involves completing at least eight hours of training.
Suboxone clinics are very similar to methadone clinics in nature. An addict can go to a Suboxone clinic to get their buprenorphine and maintain on that without need to use heroin or any other opiate to get high. Unlike methadone clinics, however, Suboxone clinics can give patients a 30 day supply; eliminating the need for daily visits. In most states, methadone maintenance patients are allowed a month’s worth only after showing two years of compliance with the medication.
The Suboxone controversy is that at these Suboxone clinics the actual medication is “diverted”. This means that Suboxone is prescribed to someone at a clinic but that person gives it or sells it to someone else. Suboxone or buprenorphine does have value on the street and is sometimes used illicitly when someone cannot get opiates and does not want to experience withdrawal or as a substitute to experience some euphoria or high. This has caused some people to view this little orange buprenorphine pill as just another drug that can be abused; meaning it has little to no therapeutic value.
The buprenorphine part of Suboxone also still has certain properties of an opiate and there has been controversy as to whether or not a person going to a Suboxone clinic can consider themselves abstinent from drugs. Twelve step recovery programs sometimes will consider someone going to a Suboxone clinic as unable to have any clean time until they are off the buprenorphine.
Suboxone maintenance at a Suboxone clinic is only meant to be temporary. This is because Suboxone does have buprenorphine and individuals do become addicted to it and then will have to go through a buprenorphine withdrawal and detox.
The safest bet when it comes to the use of buprenorphine or a Suboxone clinic is to use the advantages of the drug to quickly and safely detox off of other opiates and probably not use it for a long period of time.
If you or someone you love is in need of drug addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.