Suboxone is a popular medication most commonly used to treat opioid addiction. A combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, Suboxone is an opioid and an opioid antagonist in one pill. Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic opioid that is fast acting and only partially activating.
The fast acting attribute of buprenorphine puts it at lower risk for addiction and minimizes withdrawal effects, while the partial activation aspect contributes lower potential for addiction. Naloxone, as an opioid antagonist, prevents the user from achieving a high from opioid abuse. While taking Suboxone, abuse of other opioids such as heroin, morphine, or oxycodone will not produce euphoric effects.
Suboxone in Addiction Therapy
The most common use of Suboxone is by medical professionals in addiction therapy. Suboxone is prescribed only by doctors who have a specific license to administer the medication. It is a general rule that the patient must be free of drug abuse for a few days prior to commencement. The individual may be started on a higher dose of Suboxone and gradually weaned off at the doctor’s discretion. As opioid withdrawal often causes fever, nausea, anxiety, irritability, and insomnia, it is common for those detoxing to relapse and use an opioid again. Using opioids again is the only thing that seems to take away the psychological and physical pain of withdrawing. Suboxone is best used at this stage, as it is an opioid that sufficiently curbs cravings and pain. Withdrawal from Suboxone is often far less strenuous than long acting opioids.
After a certain period of time, determined by the doctor, the individual begins to slowly taper their Suboxone intake. Eventually, they can completely stop taking the sublingual tablets, but it must be done with medical supervision. Just as with any other opioid, Suboxone has some potential to produce unpleasant effects during withdrawal.
The slow tapering prevents the withdrawal effects from being too unbearable. As buprenorphine is a slow acting, partial activating opioid, it is not very strong in comparison to other opioids. The withdrawal effects are very similar to those of heroin, oxycodone or morphine, but less severe.
Withdrawal Symptoms Include:
- Cold sweats
As the effects are not as intense, the user is less likely to have strong drug cravings. Although this is the main suboxone side effect, it is not generally considered very dangerous.
Suboxone Side Effects
While taking Suboxone, users may experience symptoms similar to those of opioid abuse.
Side Effects Include:
- Dry mouth
- Sexual dysfunction
- Urinary retention
In addition to these side effects, there are a few dangers of Suboxone use. Combining Suboxone with other substances, especially with alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers, may cause respiratory depression and death. As opioids are central nervous system (CNS) depressants , they should not be used with other CNS depressants. Taking more Suboxone than prescribed may be very dangerous.
Some addicts take Suboxone in an attempt to get high and are unaware of the possible outcomes. The naloxone in the pill can cause rapid detox at higher doses, which may cause withdrawal symptoms quickly and brutally. Although rare, buprenorphine overdose may occur and may be fatal. Although the side effects of Suboxone may seem harrowing, the significant majority of addicts who used it claim they would recommend it.