Facts About Suboxone Addiction, Withdrawal And Treatment
Suboxone is an opiate analgesic many physicians and professional treatment centers prescribe to opiate addicts. Suboxone contains buprenorphine and naloxone, or Narcan, making it effective for weaning individuals off of other opiates. Experts debate the use of Suboxone for treating opiate addiction, because of the risk of dependence on Suboxone itself.
What Is Suboxone?
Doctors have used buprenorphine (a mild opiate analgesic) to manage mild-to-moderate levels of pain since 1985. Buprenorphine is most effective for mitigating pain in low dosages. Doctors and emergency response professionals can use naloxone to reverse the effects of opiates, including prescription painkillers and heroin. Suboxone is the combination of these two medications.
Limiting Withdrawal Symptoms
The intended effect of Suboxone is to limit the opiate addict’s withdrawal symptoms. It can decrease the frequency and intensity of opiate cravings, making it a relatively safe alternative to more harmful opiates, such as heroin, morphine, and Fentanyl. Typically, treatment centers will administer less Suboxone over time, reducing the amount until the person no longer has an addiction to opiates.
Suboxone is supposed to break one’s addiction to another opiate, but many patients then develop dependence on Suboxone. Concerns have increased in recent years as statistics report a growing number of buprenorphine-related emergency department (ED) visits.
Powerful Pain Relief
The desirable effects of Suboxone include pain relief that is 20 to 30 times more powerful than morphine, mild euphoria, a sense of calm and wellbeing, and relaxation. While Suboxone has proven to be effective at relieving withdrawal symptoms and aiding recovery from opioid addiction, it has pitfalls.
Short and Long-Term Side Effects
Aside from the risk of addiction, Suboxone can also result in the following short and long-term effects:
- Breathing problems
- Joint pain
- Feelings of isolation
When misused and taken in combination with alcohol or benzodiazepines, Suboxone can lead to respiratory failure, extreme lethargy, and death. Suboxone is a long-lasting opioid, meaning its effects can last up to three days. This makes the risk of acute reactions lower than most other opioids, as the effects are less intense and more drawn out. One of the biggest concerns with Suboxone is addiction.
Suboxone Abuse a Growing Problem
Physicians have used Buprenorphine for the last 10 years as a treatment medication for opioid addiction. In recent years, the number of Suboxone prescriptions has risen. In 2010, Drug Enforcement Administration data showed that pharmacies received over 190 million dosages of Buprenorphine. This was about five times the amount distributed in 2006. By September 2012, about 3.9 million patients had taken Suboxone for opioid addiction.
Recent statistics demonstrate the growing problems associated with Suboxone misuse, abuse and addiction:
- According to The DAWN Report, Buprenorphine-related emergency department visits increased from 3,161 in 2005 to 30,135 in 2010.
- In 2010, most related ED visits (52%) resulted from nonmedical use of pharmaceuticals, followed by patients seeking detox (25%, or 7,372 visits).
- From 2005 to 2010, the number of physicians certified to prescribe Buprenorphine for addiction treatment more than tripled – from 5,656 to 18,582.
- ED visits involving nonmedical use of pharmaceuticals increased by 255% from 2006 to 2010.
As more treatment centers use Suboxone for opiate addiction, more people are unfortunately becoming addicted to the drug. Addiction to Suboxone occurs due to the withdrawal effects of Suboxone itself. Patients using Suboxone for opioid addiction treatment can develop a dependence on the drug. Stopping the use of Suboxone can then lead to flu-like withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, headaches, insomnia, depression, fever, chills, and sweating. It is important to visit a professional treatment center to help mitigate Suboxone withdrawal symptoms during detox.
Treatment Is Available for Suboxone Addiction
During Suboxone withdrawal, the body and mind can experience negative reactions to the sudden absence of Buprenorphine in the system. Without professional supervision, the Suboxone detox process can be challenging and often leads to relapse. Symptoms of withdrawal typically peak within 72 hours. In the first week, the body may ache and the individual may experience insomnia and mood swings. In the second week, depression sets in. After one month, users typically still experience depression combined with intense cravings. This is when users have the highest risk of relapse.
Undergoing Withdrawal Is Easier at a Treatment Center
Due to the prolonged withdrawal window, it is highly recommended that Suboxone addicts seek assistance from treatment centers. A medical professional can help mitigate withdrawal and detox symptoms, create a personalized treatment plan, and reduce the risk of relapse.
If you’re concerned about Suboxone addiction during treatment for another opiate addiction, tell your treatment provider. Other paths to recovery do not include the use of potentially addictive medications, such as therapies and peer support. Contact The Treatment Center of the Palm Beaches for more information.
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