Addiction to opioids is a huge problem in the United States. It’s become so serious that it’s been called the opioid crisis. Since the 1990s, many people have become addicted to opioids that were normally prescribed to them as pain medications. Now, with the rise of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, the opioid epidemic remains a leading cause of drug abuse and overdose deaths.
If you’re addicted to opioids, you’ll be glad to know that treatment is widely available. There are even medications used to combat opioid addiction, and they are quite effective.
One such medication is known as Suboxone.
What is Suboxone?
Suboxone has two ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone. The two components combined are very helpful in minimizing cravings for highly addictive opioids like oxycodone, codeine, heroin, and fentanyl.
Buprenorphine is an opioid itself, so you could think of this as fighting fire with fire. If you’re concerned that you’d get addicted to buprenorphine instead, don’t worry. The risk for addiction is not as pronounced as other opioids.
But because Suboxone has addictive potential, the DEA classifies it as a Schedule III controlled substance. Thus, you can only get this drug with a prescription.
The physical forms of Suboxone include films and tablets. The films are sublingual, which means you have to put them under your tongue until they dissolve.
Can you get addicted to Suboxone?
Since one component of this drug is an opioid too, this is a valid question. More so, because buprenorphine is stronger than morphine.
It’s safe though because the action of buprenorphine is to block other opioids from sticking to their targets in the nervous system. It also does not cause an intense high, unlike other opioids. Thus, buprenorphine is effective in weaning you off of addictive opioids. Plus, it also helps you manage those pesky withdrawal symptoms.
Buprenorphine has another nice “side effect.” If you’re addicted to opioids, it can satisfy your opioid cravings while not feeding your addiction. It’s a lot like nicotine patches, which smokers use to help themselves quit.
Also, buprenorphine has something called a “ceiling effect.” In other words, if you take larger doses of the drug, you won’t get stronger effects. So, once you’re tolerant to the drug, you cannot overcome the tolerance by increasing your dosage or taking the drug more often.
What does naloxone do?
The other component of Suboxone also blocks the effects of addictive opioids on your nervous system. Additionally, it reverses those effects, so naloxone is helpful in relieving overdose symptoms. It even helps you avoid overdosing on Suboxone itself.
Naloxone also prevents you from getting high. Because of this, it helps a lot in preventing a relapse.
Does Suboxone have side effects?
Just like other medicines, Suboxone can deliver side effects. Almost all of them are not fatal, though, and they go away after several days. Here are some of them:
- Muscle pain
When used properly, Suboxone is pretty safe. But, if you take it along with alcohol or benzodiazepines, you could experience more serious side effects.
Also, in some cases, Suboxone can trigger severe allergic reactions. They manifest as swelling in the throat and difficulty breathing.
Taking too much Suboxone can damage your liver and cause you to go into a coma. Additionally, you could suffer an overdose too.
What happens if you overdose on Suboxone?
In normal situations, the risk for overdosing on Suboxone is low, especially if you follow your doctor’s orders to the letter. But if you do use too much of it, overdose can be lethal. You can also overdose on Suboxone if you combine it with other drugs.
Some of its overdose symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of coordination
- Stomach pain
- Loss of consciousness
- Slurred speech
- Constricted pupils
In extreme cases, overdosing on Suboxone can cause a condition called respiratory depression. In other words, it can cause your breathing to slow down or stop completely. If it doesn’t cause death, it can damage your brain or lead you into a coma.
Are there illegal versions of Suboxone?
Actually, there are. Drug dealers are selling illegal versions of Suboxone in many regions in the US. In Cincinnati alone, police have seized more than 6,000 doses of illegal Suboxone in 2018.
But if Suboxone does not cause a pleasant high, why do people buy it illegally?
Many of those who buy illegal Suboxone do not seek the high. Rather, they just want relief from their withdrawal symptoms.
However, doing this by yourself is not safe. If you are not under an opioid addiction treatment program, and if you haven’t been prescribed Suboxone, it’s best not to take it. Otherwise, you could become dependent on the drug.
Here’s how it works. Let’s say you don’t enroll in an opioid addiction treatment program, and instead take Suboxone regularly. While it does relieve your withdrawal symptoms, it won’t last forever. In turn, you need to keep on taking Suboxone to take away the withdrawal. And this cycle would continue.
Thus, you haven’t solved your addiction problem. Instead, you just made yourself dependent on Suboxone. In the worst case, you might suffer from an overdose. This is especially true if you don’t have any prescriptions to guide you.
But if you’re under a proper opioid addiction treatment program, at the end of it, you won’t have to take Suboxone anymore.
What can you do if you get addicted to Suboxone?
Even if Suboxone is meant to help you if you have an opioid addiction, you can still end up getting addicted to it. Especially if you misuse the drug or use it without a prescription.
Just like any other addictive substance, you can get professional help to overcome Suboxone addiction. You may have to undergo a full rehab process, which includes detox, behavioral therapies, and aftercare.
Lots of treatment options are available to you. Reach out to a recovery professional today so you can get the help you need.