“Only about 10 percent of people who suffer from opioid dependence are being treated for it.” Part of the reason why the majority is not being treated is due to lack of options. It simply is just not easy for those wanting to get treatment for and detox from heroin.
One option such as Methadone is often brought up when someone wants to detox, but it can be difficult to access since it’s typically only available at specialized addiction clinics. It’s not just about getting access to the pills however, Methadone detox can require up to a 30 day tapered dose treatment under medical supervision and then the majority of patients tend to relapse regardless.
This is where Suboxone could help. Unlike Methadone, Suboxone can be prescribed in most doctor’s offices which makes it easier for people seeking help to get it.
Suboxone is used during the detox stage of treatment in order to ease some of the uncomfortable symptoms of opiate withdrawal and help the person wain off of their drug of choice. When Suboxone is no longer required, a slow taper is often recommended and those who taper slowly off Suboxone will experience virtually no withdrawal effects.
How Does Suboxone Work?
Suboxone contains two separate medications called Buprenorphine and Naloxone which work together in separate ways to help a recovery addict begin their treatment for heroin.
Buprenorphine works by stimulating the part of the brain that is activated by heroin or other opiates without giving the brain the full effect of them. That may sound like it is no better than the actual opiate addiction itself, but one of the great things about Buprenorphine is that it can never give you the full opioid effect. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist while drugs such as heroin are full opioid agonists and because of this suboxone is much more difficult to get addicted to than other opiates.
Buprenorphine is so effective in detox because it tricks the brain into thinking that a opioid like heroin is in your system, but you actually aren’t feeling that high that comes with a drug like heroin. By doing this, Buprenorphine suppresses the withdrawal symptoms and cravings associated with the abused opiate.
The second medication involved in Suboxone works in the opposite way, instead of stimulating the opioid receptors in the brain, Naloxone blocks the effect entirely. This is important because it also limits the chances of abuse. The main reason why Naloxone was added to Suboxone was to avoid people snorting or crushing it.
If Naloxone was crushed and snorted it would travel to the brain more rapidly than ingesting it as with most drugs, but instead of giving the person an increased effect of what they want they would trigger severe withdrawal symptoms.
When Buprenorphine and Naloxone work together in Suboxone they produce outstanding results.
“Results showed that approximately 49 percent of participants reduced prescription painkiller abuse during extended (at least 12-week) Suboxone treatment. This success rate dropped to 8.6 percent once Suboxone was discontinued.” (nih.gov)
Disadvantages of Suboxone
Although suboxone was designed to be un-abusable, there are still enough cases of Suboxone addiction that we need to be careful both as recovering addicts and as treatment professionals. Since Buprenorphine affects the opioid receptors in the brain it can potentially create dependence, especially if it’s not used under medical supervision.
One man stated that it’s the only drug he’s ever been addicted to and seven years later he still is not free from his addiction.
Dependency on Suboxone is a potential danger for those who have not previously been addicted to an opiate due to their body’s low tolerance for it. Suboxone is designed to taper opiate addicts off of their drug of choice and because of this people who are already addicted to a stronger substance do not experience the high that can come from Buprenorphine.
If someone who has never used a hard drug before suddenly used Suboxone they would experience the same euphoria and high that a heroin user would get. This is why along with all prescriptions we need to follow the directions that our doctors give us and not share our prescriptions with other people.
Overall Suboxone is a great tool for recovering addicts of heroin and other opiates to eliminate much of the severity that comes with withdrawal. It is effective when used correctly as prescribed by your medical professionals.
If you’re trying to break free from your addiction of opiates or other substances but haven’t been able to do it on your own, call us at (877) 212-8299 and we will guide you throughout your journey to recovery. Our treatment specialists are here to listen to your individual situation and find the program that is a perfect fit for you.