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  • Suboxone: Here is Everything You Need to Know About This Drug

    Suboxone is a brand of medication that contains Buprenorphine and Naloxone. Presently, it is available only by prescription. Buprenorphine is itself an opioid but isn’t as addictive.

    A Guide to Suboxone

    Therefore, doctors use it as a replacement for stronger opioids. On the other hand, Naloxone is an opioid receptor antagonist. Consequently, it inhibits the effects of opioids on the brain.

    What is Suboxone Used For?

    It helps opioid-addicted patients find relief from opioid withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, it also helps to reduce cravings from highly addictive drugs like heroin and oxycodone.

    The United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) allows doctors to use it in the following types of treatments:

    • Induction Therapy for Addiction: This is the initial part of addiction treatment which aims at rapid detox of the drug from the body. Consequently, medical detox uses Suboxone to reduce withdrawal symptoms safely.
    • For Methadone addiction: The role of Suboxone in treating addicts of Methadone or other long-acting opioids hasn’t been extensively studied. Therefore, doctors do not recommend its use in such cases. Instead, Buprenorphine alone is the choice of treatment for such cases. Your doctor may prescribe Suboxone after completing induction therapy.
    • For Heroin addiction: Heroin or other short-acting opioids addicts should begin treatment not later than 6 hours after the last dose. Additionally, they can begin as soon as the withdrawal symptoms become noticeable.
    • Maintenance Therapy for Addiction: The doctor may use it as a part of maintenance therapy. This can happen once induction therapy is over and the patient has been stabilized. It aims to reduce drug cravings and prevent withdrawal symptoms from coming back.

    This drug acts in a dual manner to avoid cravings and opioid withdrawal. Therefore, the basic idea behind combining the two oppositely acting medications in a single formulation is to:

    • Maintain a constant supply of the weaker opioid drug, Buprenorphine, to trick the brain. This helps to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
    • Cut down the effects of opioids by using a medication, Naloxone, which acts against the opioids. This helps to prevent or even reverse a number of opioid-induced symptoms, such as drowsiness, respiratory depression, and loss of consciousness.

    Can Suboxone Get You Addicted?

    Yes, Suboxone is addictive. Since it contains an opioid, admittedly a weaker one, it has every possibility of causing an addiction. However, the addiction potential is comparatively lower than that of other powerful opioids.

    The euphoric and relaxed feeling experienced during a “Suboxone high” is associated with a risk. In this case, as your brain starts enjoying the high, you will need an increasingly greater dose at regular intervals to achieve the same effect.

    Incidentally, if users don’t reduce the dosage early on, the abuse may turn into an addiction.

    Before taking Suboxone

    It is of the impost importance that you are honest with your health care provider if you or they are suggesting you start treatment with Suboxone. To make sure that this drug is safe for you, and to help avoid any unpleasant side effect, make sure to tell your doctor about any other medications you may be taking, co-occurring issues, especially those in regards to your respiratory system, head injuries, liver and kidney, previous history of addiction. Your doctor needs know your whole situation to treat you best so don’t hide anything.

    There can be harmful interactions if you are using Suboxone at the same time as other medication. This can be the cause of something called Serotonin syndrome, which is a very serious condition.  It basically means the brain is receiving too much serotonin than healthy which can lead to an overdose.

    You may not even think to tell your doctor about a certain medication you are taking, because it may simply seem unrelated. You must remember to tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following medications: for migraine headaches, serious infections, to fight nausea or vomiting, Parkinson’s disease or depression. Be sure to ask for medical clearance before you change the amount and dosage of any of the medication you are taking because even if your doctor is aware of you taking the drug, dosage can make all the difference.

    Even if no longer pregnant women need to be cautious because buprenorphine and naloxone (the two key ingredients in Suboxone) can pass into breast milk. If a breastfeeding mother is taking Suboxone, her child may experience breathing problems or drowsiness. Tell your doctor if you are either breastfeeding or pregnant. Children born to mothers who used Suboxone may be physically dependant on it. This requires weeks of treatment to alleviate the newborn’s withdrawal symptoms.

    What Does Suboxone Look Like

    Suboxone

    It is available as tablets and sublingual films. Similarly, both these dosage forms are orange in color.

    The tablets have six sides. They are available in two strengths. One contains 2mg Buprenorphine with 0.5mg Naloxone, and other with 8mg Buprenorphine and 2mg Naloxone.

    The sublingual films are also available in two strengths in the same concentrations as the tablets.

    How to use Suboxone

    Because of the nature of Suboxone, it is very important that you are vigilant in where you keep it and who has access to it. If you or a loved one was prescribed Suboxone it is most likely due to an addiction problem. This is a very serious and at times dangerous drug that should never be used for purposes other than intended.

    For this reason make sure to keep your Suboxone in a safe place, out of reach of children. Never share your prescription, especially with someone who has a history of addiction. You may think that this drug may be helpful to them, but the misuse of Suboxone can lead to new addictions, overdose or even death. This is especially true if taken by children or someone without a prescription.

    Always follow the instructions given to you by your doctor exactly, do not change your dosage, or frequency of use without a medical consultation. Suboxone has a unique method of use, it is meant to dissolve in your mouth. Do not chew, swallow whole or cut the tablet or film. Never use alternative methods such as crushing to snort, or injecting the drug into your vein, for these practices have led to death. Do not simply decide to stop using Suboxone suddenly, for that may result in difficult withdrawal symptoms. During the time you are taking Suboxone, you will need to have regular blood tests to make sure your liver is coping.

    It is important to let your family and people you trust know that you are taking Suboxone so that they can inform medical personnel in case of an emergency. It is also wise to carry a medical alert tag or ID stating that you are currently in treatment for addiction. This can help avoid any unwanted drug interactions.

    Lastly, never keep unused Suboxone sitting around. This can be dangerous, so ask your pharmacist where you can find a drug take-back program. If there are none in your location, simply flush the medication down the toilet.

    Interaction with other drugs

    Suboxone can have dangerous interactions with other drugs, which sometimes can be deadly. Make sure your doctor knows about:

    • Any sleep medication you may be taking such as sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, sedatives, tranquilizers, or any antipsychotic medicine
    • Any prescription cough medication or opioid pain medicine
    • Medication that affects the serotonin levels in your brain (listed when we mentioned Serotonin Syndrome)

    What Are The Side Effects of Suboxone

    On the one hand, if you use it correctly, Suboxone can cause one or more of the following side effects:

    • Abnormal heart rhythm
    • Coughing or hoarseness of voice
    • Dizziness
    • Fever
    • Red skin on the face and neck
    • Headache
    • Sweating
    • Backpain
    • Pain during urination
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Loss of sleep

    Warning

    Though Suboxone can be very helpful in treating opioid addiction, it does come with some significant risks that every user should be aware of. Firstly, Suboxone slows down respiration, and in some cases may cause you to stop breathing. This side effect is not limited to the abuse of the drug, it can happen while taking the drug as prescribed. Therefore, it is important to be aware of your breathing rate while taking Suboxone.

    Women who are pregnant should also refrain from taking Suboxone, for it has been known to cause potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in their newborn babies.

    Taking Suboxone in combination with alcohol or other drugs may have fatal effects. Look out for drowsiness and the slowing of your breath. Never use Suboxone without oversight from your doctor, and remember to always report any side effects you may be experiencing.

    Symptoms of Overdose

    On the other hand, the following symptoms usually indicate a case of overdose. In fact, if you notice any of these while using Suboxone, stop taking the drug and seek emergency medical attention immediately.

    • Blurred vision
    • Mental confusion
    • Labored breathing
    • Excessive dizziness or drowsiness
    • Rapid shallow breathing
    • Constricted pupil
    • Abnormal fatigue

    Key Takeaways

    In conclusion, even though Suboxone is a helpful drug in combating addiction, you need to be mindful. You might go from one drug problem to another. As a result, you may end up with a new unwanted situation.

    Therefore remember:

    • This combination drug is not intended for use in pain treatment.
    • Any case of addiction needs a complete treatment plan which consists of medications, counseling, and psychosocial support. Suboxone alone is not sufficient to treat the addiction.
    • Its use can become habit-forming and addictive as it contains the opioid drug Buprenorphine. Feelings of euphoria from the drug are responsible for this problem.
    • You can take this medication in two ways. First, by keeping the film under the tongue (sublingual administration), another by sticking it to the inside of the cheek. Never chew or swallow the film. Always use the entire film at one time.

    Have More Questions? Experts Can Help You

    Do you have any questions regarding addiction, its treatment options, or want to know more about Suboxone? Talk to the experts near you. Click here to learn more.