Drug and Alcohol - Medication-Assisted Treatment - Opioid Addiction

Everything You Wanted to Know About Suboxone: How This “Miracle Drug” Can Help Opioid Addiction

Everything You Wanted to Know About Suboxone: How this “Miracle Drug” Can Help Opioid Addiction

Suboxone has helped many with opioid addiction. Learn how this “miracle drug” works and the pluses and minuses in our blog!

If you or your loved one has been recommended Suboxone to help you treat opioid addiction, you need to know more about this medicine. There is a lot of data out there that provides a peek into how Suboxone strips can help people with substance abuse issues. At the same time, it can get difficult to find easy-to-understand information about important things regarding this medicine, such as suboxone withdrawal or its best dosing methods.

Read ahead to understand how Suboxone has become an important part of treating people with addiction problems across the country.

What Is Suboxone?

Suboxone is an FDA-approved formulation that is used to treat addiction to opioids. If you are wondering about “How Suboxone works”, please note that treating opioid dependence with this medicine happens in a controlled manner and it needs professional guidance. Usually, Suboxone treatment is spread across two phases: it starts with an introduction and the second phase is called maintenance.

“The number of drug overdose deaths increased by nearly 30% from 2019 to 2020 and has quintupled since 1999.  Nearly 75% of the 91,799 drug overdose deaths in 2020 involved an opioid [CDC]”

Suboxone has proven to be rather effective in controlling opioid abuse. Suboxone is actually the brand name for a formula that combines buprenorphine with naloxone. The two drugs that make up the chemical formulation for Suboxone are also available as individual drugs for treating different types of substance abuse problems. As a prescription drug, Suboxone has been used in various ways for treating dependence on opioid drugs.

What to Expect When Using Suboxone Strips for the First Time

People curious about Suboxone should know that it comes as an oral film. This film does not need to be swallowed or chewed. Just place it under the tongue and the film releases the medication via the sublingual route. The film can be held between the gums and cheek also. The medication gets absorbed slowly and the film slowly dissolves in the mouth without leaving any residue. Suboxone strips are usually available in different strengths. During your drug induction phase, Suboxone will be used for reducing the withdrawal symptoms along with the gradual reduction of opioid use.

During the Suboxone maintenance phase, the medicine’s dosing is more stable, and the same dose is persisted for a longer time, and this can account for several months of consistent Suboxone use. 

CTA background

We’re Here to Help You Find Your Way

Would you like more information about Suboxone? Reach out today.

What Is Suboxone Used For?

With its approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating opioid dependence, Suboxone has become the preferred treatment across many inpatient and outpatient rehab care centers. Not just health care providers, the American Society of Addiction Medicine also recommends Suboxone as an effective treatment for treating people diagnosed with opioid dependence. Suboxone works by controlling the withdrawal symptoms that can hit hard when someone is trying to reduce or stop opioid use. 

Using Suboxone for Withdrawal Symptoms

You should speak with your physician about the exact reason to choose this prescription drug. This is because Suboxone also finds use for better management of opioid withdrawal symptoms that tend to flare up during detoxification. Suboxone can help to reduce the intensity of the symptoms, boosting the chances of the addict completing the detox program. Since the duration of detoxification programs is limited, many drug rehabs use Suboxone to help the affected effectively break away from doing drugs like opioids or alcohol.

In comparison, using Suboxone for a full-scale opioid dependence treatment needs a longer-term approach and this means using this combination medicine for a much longer period.

CTA background

We’re Here to Help You Find Your Way

Do you have more questions about Suboxone? Reach out.

Using Suboxone for Pain Management

Suboxone is often the preferred combination medication used for treating intense pain. The effectiveness of Suboxone in terms of treating pain might have mixed reviews but yes, Suboxone can be more effective when the person is suffering from chronic pain and has a history of opioid dependence. This is because of the presence of Buprenorphine as one of the drugs in Suboxone which is known to have some pain-treatment ability.

Can Suboxone Treat Depression?

Suboxone has conventionally not been used for treating depression. The misconception perhaps arises due to the presence of buprenorphine as one of the drugs within the formula that makes Suboxone effective. Since buprenorphine has had some success as a part of comprehensive therapy for treating depression, people can assume that Suboxone too can help in controlling the symptoms of depression.

Some studies have shown buprenorphine can help treat depression, however. If this course has been suggested to you, please remember more research has to be done.

CTA background

We’re Here to Help You Find Your Way

Do you need advice about Suboxone? Reach out today.

How Does Suboxone Work?

This is rather important for anyone who has been prescribed Suboxone. Understanding how the medication works can provide more insight into what to expect after a few days of consistently taking the regular dose.

Suboxone is a combination medication containing buprenorphine and naloxone. The effectiveness of Suboxone is due to certain effects brought about by each of these individual medicines.

Buprenorphine’s Role in Making Suboxone Effective

Buprenorphine induces some of the feelings that are associated with opioid drugs but its clinical use is attributed to its ability to block the more harmful effects of opioids. It is a rare medication, accurately described as an opioid partial agonist-antagonist. Buprenorphine as a part of Suboxone plays an important role in the treatment of opioid drug dependence. It works by gradually reducing the typical cravings and withdrawal symptoms that someone trying to go off opioids is bound to suffer without creating the high that an abused opioid does.

Naloxone’s Role in Making Suboxone Effective

The role of Naloxone in making Suboxone effective is as important as it plays an integral role in preventing the abuse of Suboxone. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, and it works by blocking the effects of opioid drugs. This is why Suboxone should never be used without medical supervision. If someone using opioids uses Suboxone strips, the presence of Naloxone can create dangerous symptoms.

By blocking opioids, Naloxone can push the body into an immediate state of withdrawal. However, this withdrawal is needed for treating people with opioid dependence but in a controlled manner. When someone uses Suboxone strips, the release of naloxone is more regulated, and a lot slower and this keeps away the unwanted effects of Naloxone.

Suboxone Withdrawal: Is It Real? How Bad Is It?

Suboxone withdrawal is real if it has been used for the long term. After consistent usage over the years, Suboxone can create some degree of physical and psychological dependence. This dependence might cause some withdrawal symptoms if Suboxone is suddenly stopped after being used regularly for a long time.

This is why the more experienced drug rehab specialists will be recommended tapering the Suboxone dose rather than stopping the medication abruptly and completely. The more common, and often not-so-serious Suboxone withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Headache

  • Muscle aches

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Getting the jitters or anxiety

  • Unexplained sweating

Some Suboxone withdrawal symptoms might peak for a few days and then flatten before totally disappearing. There have been doubts about Suboxone leading to tolerance which means that for the desired effects of Suboxone, its dose needs to be gradually increased. This can happen but it is not the norm. Suboxone drug tolerance is not common and even the drugs that makeup Suboxone’s combination formula are not associated with reaching a tolerance. 

CTA background

We’re Here to Help You Find Your Way

Would you like more information about Suboxone? Reach out today.

Thinking of Trying Suboxone? Side Effects You Need to Know About

Suboxone is usually not addictive, and it is not likely to cause severe side effects right away. There is some chance of mild side effects. The following is a series of different types of Suboxone side effects that anyone about to take this medication should know about:

The common Suboxone side effects:

  • Sweating

  • Depression

  • Constipation

  • Nausea

  • Weakness 

  • Anxiety

  • Insomnia 

  • Headache

  • Body aches

  • Abdominal cramps

  • Rapid heart rate

  • More serious Suboxone side effects include:

  • Needing Suboxone to feel normal

  • Breathing troubles

  • Hormone imbalances

  • Damage to the liver

  • Severe allergic rashes

  • Abusing the medicine

Some Important Pointers About Taking Suboxone 

You should not take Suboxone orally like a pill. Instead, you should put the medicated film where it will not be chewed or swallowed, like beneath your tongue or in that small space that exists between the gums and cheek. It does not matter if you take it before or after a meal, as the medicine is absorbed in the mouth and not via the stomach. Also, when the film is in the mouth, you should not eat or drink anything. 

Learn More About Suboxone Dosage

Suboxone dosage needs to be handled by a mental health care expert. There are no predefined dosages. The starting dose might be controlled and gradually, the dose can be upped. The initial dose might be affected by the severity of opioid dependence symptoms. The dose might also vary across patients with similar substance abuse patterns due to the different stages of treatment they have reached.

Reaching the right dosage can take time but once attained, it is likely that the Suboxone dose will be maintained for some time. Some experts talk about the Suboxone dose across three phases – induction dose, Suboxone maintenance dose, and tapering dose. Apart from being used as a sublingual film, Suboxone is also available in pill form.

Unfortunately, Suboxone overdose is possible. Here are the most commonly reported Suboxone overdose signs:

  • Headache

  • Dizziness

  • Burning sensation in the tongue

  • Trouble breathing

  • Coma

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Stomach pain

  • Anxiety

  • Sweating

  • Chills

  • Weakness or fatigue

More Important Suboxone Facts

Though a combination medicine, Suboxone is classified as a controlled substance. A prescription drug, it finds medical use, but since there is a chance of it causing physical or mental dependence, it can be accessed via a valid prescription only. It is in the same group of medicines that come with the threat of being abused; the same is true for many schedule III drugs.

Yes, there is a generic alternative to Suboxone as Suboxone is a popular branded drug name. Generic formulations with buprenorphine and naloxone are also available. Generic forms of Suboxone are also available as an oral film and a tablet. 

What Women Should Know About Using Suboxone During Pregnancy

Research data offers limited clarity about how the two drugs in Suboxone might affect pregnancy. Available studies have not linked the use of buprenorphine with birth defects or harmful effects on the fetus when used during pregnancy. Regarding any harm to pregnancy due to naloxone, there just isn’t sufficient information to know if this medicine adversely affects the developing fetus. Despite this, most addiction treatment experts opine that it is not a good idea to consume Suboxone during pregnancy as there is a chance of opioid withdrawal syndrome in the newborn. 

Suboxone and Medical Conditions

Suboxone might not be a good choice if you have some medical conditions. Some examples include:

Suboxone might be harmful to those with liver disease and using this medication could worsen the withdrawal symptoms too

Suboxone can raise the fluid pressure in the brain and spinal cord, making it unfit for those with serious head injuries

Suboxone could cause breathing problems and is not a good fit if you have lung disease. Anyone with a history of asthma and bronchitis is not likely to be a good candidate for Suboxone

Talk to Your Doctor About Suboxone

If you are worried about how long suboxone stays in your system, you should note that it might take up to 12 hours for the medication to exit your system. If you are worried about the side effects of Suboxone, you should speak to your physician or rehab care specialist about other drugs that might be a good replacement for Suboxone. This means using combination medicines like Suboxone or standalone drugs for treating opioid dependence. You should talk about the benefits or downfalls of using prescription medicines in this context that might be more suitable for you.

Similarly, if you have doubts about Suboxone abuse due to the long-term use of the medicine, talk about it. If you are using other opioids or continue to drink alcohol apart from recreationally using benzodiazepines, it is critical that you talk to your attending physician about using Suboxone.

Explore Suboxone Therapy at The Edge Treatment Center

The Edge Treatment Center provides expert and sympathetic guidance, counseling, and therapeutic expertise that helps in identifying and systematically breaking different patterns of drug addiction, alcoholism, or substance abuse. The rehab center has helped people across different age groups quickly return to an addiction-free life, bringing relief to thousands of families across the nation.

Learn more about Suboxone by talking to an Edge Treatment Center expert today!

CTA background

We’re Here to Help You Find Your Way

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Opioid Addiction

December 7, 2022