Opiate abuse affects some 26.4 million to 36 million people worldwide and an estimated 2.5 million people in the United States, according to the latest reports from the National Institute of Drug Abuse.
Opioids are pain relievers that increase one’s sense of well-being and pleasure while temporarily alleviating pain, but it doesn’t get rid of pain permanently. Millions take prescribed opiates to alleviate pain from health conditions and injuries; however, millions more take them non-medically.
Due to tolerance build up, prolonged use at increasing doses cause people to become dependent on them and eventually get addicted to opiates. There are three medications to treat opioid addiction: buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone.
Buprenorphine or “bupes” are the most commonly used and probably the most controversial medication to treat opioid addiction due to overprescribing, uncomfortable side effects, and potential for abuse.
So What is Suboxone?
Suboxone is the brand name for buprenorphine. It contains both buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is used to trick the brain into thinking it is taking opioids so withdrawal symptoms stay away and cravings are reduced.
Opiate addiction is often difficult to overcome because of the psychological cravings and physical pain experienced during withdrawal. Often, chronic pain becomes an issue, which also increases the likeliness of stress, anxiety, and/or depression and a vicious cycle of opiate abuse.
Suboxone is used as a form of “harm reduction” for those who are addicted to opiates whether it’s heroin or prescription painkillers. However, its use is controversial because it is often overprescribed by non-addiction specialists or physicians who are not well-versed in addiction medicine. This often causes more problems for patients who rely on the medicine to taper off opiates and who are already vulnerable to relapse.
Is Suboxone Really That Bad?
Suboxone has worked for very few, yet a string of fraud cases throughout the country have severely diminished the efforts of its harm reduction. In states where pill mills are popular despite federal crackdowns, i.e. Florida, Kentucky, New York, and Louisiana. These states all have high rates of Suboxone doctors who have been sanctioned for fraud and malpractice.
High Risk of Overdose
Suboxone functions best as a long-term use drug to taper people off opiates. However, overprescription, insurance limitations, lack of patient oversight, maintenance therapy and counseling, often causes patients to get off Suboxone too early, which increases the chances of relapse or overdose on opiates. With about 2.5 million Americans dependent on opioids in 2014, at least 19,154 have died from opioid overdoses.
For the most part, it has created more harm than good due to a lack of qualified doctors to prescribe it correctly and patients who either end up abusing it or either selling it on the streets.
Also, Suboxone has created the illusion of “self-maintenance” or a way to combat withdrawal symptoms while continuing opiate addiction, which often leads to overdose. According to most recent reports, emergency room visits for nonmedical use of buprenorphine or Suboxone was about 21,483 in 2011.
Suboxone Side Effects
The withdrawal symptoms from opiate addiction can worsen, depending on how long they’ve been abused. Although Suboxone is supposed to curb opiate withdrawal symptoms, many still experience the following side effects:
- Body aches, headaches and flu-like symptoms
- Sleep problems
The extreme anxiety and pain both psychologically and physically from opiate addiction can be unbearable. While the goal of Suboxone is to wean people off opiates with medication management, it does nothing to treat the psychological side effects of addiction.
The Most Effective Opiate Addiction Treatment
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for opiate addiction. Although Suboxone is meant to be used as medication-assisted treatment, a huge lack of oversight and the professional irresponsibility with overwhelming fraud makes Suboxone an often mismanaged and highly risky method of addiction treatment.
The most proven, effective opiate addiction treatment provides a combination of a supervised detox, as-needed medication management by licensed medical doctors, counseling, and holistic services to treat acute and chronic pain.
If your loved one has been struggling with depression and using drug and alcohol, find help today by calling us or chat now. Our admissions counselors are glad to answer any questions you may have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.