Suboxone is a combination of the drugs buprenorphine and naloxone that is commonly used in the treatment of opiate addiction. This opioid is considered a narcotic and, though it does carry a potential for abuse, the risks associated with abuse are far less than when other opiates such as heroin or morphine are used. The primary reason that Suboxone is actually safer than other opioids that are used in the treatment of opiate addiction relates to the Naloxone that is combined into the drug.
Naloxone is a narcotic that actually reverses the effects of opiates such as heroin or morphine. By taking Naloxone, the user will not feel the pleasurable effects of such opiates or opioids and can overcome the desire to use such drugs simply because there is no fun in it. Although Suboxone may be used for purposes other than the treatment of opiate addiction, treating addiction continues to be the most common purpose of being prescribed.
Suboxone Side Effects
There are potential side effects which could occur when Suboxone is taken. There is a risk of Buprenorphine and Naloxone causing drug dependence so it’s important to discuss such risks with your healthcare provider or treatment professional before starting any Suboxone treatment regimen. Additionally, if you stop taking Suboxone too quickly without tapering the drug off there is also a risk of withdrawal occurring.
This medication is not taken on an as needed basis. When prescribed, patients are required to take the full dose regularly without stopping. Suboxone treatment could last anywhere from a few months to many years depending on the patient’s desire to continue with a medication replacement therapy such as Suboxone as well as various other factors.
Emergency medical attention should be sough if any of the following serious side effect occur while taking Suboxone:
- Allergic reaction
- Slowed breathing or difficulty breathing
- Liver problems such as jaundice or yellowing of the skin or eyes
Additionally, if you suffer any of the following side effects, you should talk with your doctor about possibly changing your dose or providing another method of treatment for your opiate addiction:
- Stomach cramps
- Difficulty sleeping
These side effects are not necessarily dangerous but you should discuss any side effects that you feel while taking Suboxone. Talk with your doctor or treatment provider about the side effects that you are feeling as there may be ways to reduce or prevent such effects from occurring.
Quitting Suboxone without first gradually tapering the drug off can lead to a number of dangerous risk factors. Because the primary ingredients in Suboxone (Buprenorphine and Naloxone) both have a wide potential for causing physical dependence, abruptly quitting Suboxone use can lead to withdrawal symptoms that are difficult to treat.
There are also risks associated with allergic reaction. Patients who are allergic to Naloxone or Buprenorphine should not take Suboxone. It’s important to discuss any and all allergies with a doctor prior to taking this medication for the treatment of opiate dependence or opiate addiction. In some severe cases, allergic reaction could occur.
Do not take Suboxone if you have a medical history of:
- Head injury
- Breathing problems
- Sleep apnea
- Liver disease
- Mental disorders
- Suicidal thoughts
- Stomach problems
- Difficulty urinating
Suboxone or Methadone?
Both medications are used in the treatment and maintenance of opiate dependence and addiction and both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Suboxone and methadone are both used in the short-term and long-term maintenance of opiate addiction as well as in opiate detox. The medications that works best for you is ultimately up to you and your discretion.
Studies have found that those who take Suboxone do tend to remain in treatment longer than those who take methadone but not in all cases. In all cases, the use of Suboxone or Methadone is far superior in the treatment of opiate addiction versus the use of no medication at all.
How is Suboxone Administered?
Suboxone is typically administered in either a film or tablet form. Most patients report that they prefer the film over the table because the film has a more neutral taste than the tablet and the film dissolves quicker. Both methods of administration will typically take place in a doctor’s office at first and as the maintenance of the opiate addiction becomes more controlled, patients will be provided with a take home dose of Suboxone that they can manage on their own.
Suboxone is administered once a day making for a very convenient method of opiate addiction treatment. Both the Suboxone tablets and the film can be interchanged as both administer the same medications and dosages. Really, the method of administration is up to your preference and your doctor’s prescription.
The Need for Counseling & Therapy
It’s important to realize that there is more to opiate addiction treatment than simply taking a medication once a day and forgetting about the rest. Both Suboxone and Methadone have a high instance of causing physical dependence which means that you can expect to have some difficulty quitting either of these medication replacement therapies when you decide that you are ready to be completely done with your opiate addiction.
Opiate addiction also has a major impact psychiatrically which means that you will need to focus some of your treatment on counseling and therapy to ensure that you are emotionally healed. Even while taking Suboxone or another medication replacement medication, it’s important to also take part in behavioral therapy and counseling. The following methods of counseling and therapy can be found in many treatment and opiate rehab centers:
- Individual counseling
- Group counseling
- Behavioral therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Social & peer support
A combination of these methods of treatment paired with medication replacement such as Suboxone to reduce cravings and prevent withdrawal symptoms can go great lengths in helping a recovering addict to get on the right path to sobriety and to staying clean.