Opioid abuse in the United States is a public health crisis, and statistics shine a spotlight on the severity thereof. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 2 million people had an opioid use disorder in 2018 alone. Additionally, statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse show that up to 29 percent of people misuse the narcotic pain medications prescribed to them by their doctors, and up to 12 percent of people who take these medications develop an opioid use disorder.
Suboxone— an FDA-approved addiction treatment medication often used in combination with counseling and behavioral therapy— brings in a ray of hope for people struggling with opioid dependence.
If you’re on this page because you’re fighting opioid dependence and in search of an effective solution to your problem, here are 10 things you need to know about Suboxone:
1.) Suboxone has a unique mechanism of action.
Suboxone contains four parts buprenorphine and one part naloxone. Buprenorphine works by tricking the brain into thinking that it is receiving a full dose of an opioid, while naloxone blocks the activation of opioid receptors, thereby reversing the euphoric effects of buprenorphine. Opioid receptors are found in the brain, and they consist of opioid substances naturally produced in the body. Opioid receptor activation results in feelings of reward and pleasure.
The combination of buprenorphine and naloxone blunts the intoxication brought on by other opioids, prevents opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and ultimately helps you transition back to a life of safety and normalcy.
2.) Suboxone produces a “ceiling effect.”
Suboxone has a lower overdose potential because it produces a “ceiling effect.” This is a pharmacological phenomenon in which the impact of the drug on the body plateaus. This means that once you reach the therapeutic limit of Suboxone, taking more than its intended dosage (24-32 mg) per day will no longer yield a euphoric effect—and only potential side effects.
3.) Suboxone can also pose a risk for addiction and overdose.
Despite the life-saving benefits of Suboxone, one thing worth keeping in mind is that it is an opioid in itself, so if it’s taken at too high of a dose, without prescription, or in any other way than intended on the label, it can still put you at risk for addiction and overdose.
Given Suboxone’s ceiling effect, some people resort to injecting the drug, thereby bypassing its time-release qualities and making overdose much more likely.
It stands to reason that Suboxone is only available under the supervision of a licensed mental health professional through a certified opioid treatment program.
4.) Suboxone is not without side effects and withdrawal effects.
Side effects of Suboxone may include dizziness or blurred vision, drowsiness, headache, back pain, tongue pain, numbness or tingling, increased sweating, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and insomnia.
If you stop taking Suboxone cold turkey or use it too soon after taking heroin or other opioids, you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms, such as muscle aches, sweating, nausea, restlessness, to name a few, which can often result in a relapse.
5.) Suboxone treatment is administered in four phases.
The first is the induction phase, in which you undergo an intake assessment to determine the proper dose. The second step is the stabilization phase, in which you receive counseling and support services to confront the underlying cause of your addiction. The third step is the maintenance phase, in which you continue to take the correct dose of Suboxone while beginning to return to a normal lifestyle. The last step is the taper phase, in which your mental health provider will gradually reduce the required dose of Suboxone until you no longer need it.
6.) How long Suboxone stays in your system depends on various factors.
Depending on your age, height, weight, body mass, speed of metabolism, and other factors, it can take anywhere from 9 to 14 days for Suboxone to get fully flushed out of your system after the final dose is administered.
7.) Suboxone should never be mixed with alcohol.
Mixing alcohol with Suboxone can have fatal consequences. It can cause respiratory suppression (decreased breathing), hypoxia, comatose, and brain damage.
8.) There are certain medications that you cannot take with Suboxone.
Talk to your provider if you’re taking benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax or Valium), antihistamines, muscle relaxers, or other types of medications to prevent potentially serious drug interactions.
9.) Suboxone is not a cure-all.
Addiction is a complex disease that requires a multifaceted treatment approach. Relying on Suboxone alone can’t help you completely overcome your opioid dependence. This explains why Suboxone is almost always used in conjunction with other types of interventions, such as behavioral therapy, counseling, and support groups.
10.) Suboxone can be taken in two ways.
Suboxone comes in an oral film and an oral tablet, both of which can be used to dissolve under your tongue (sublingual). The oral film can be used in your cheek (buccal).
Suboxone Treatment in Danville and Martinsville, Virginia
If you are committed to overcoming your opioid dependence, visit us here at EPIC Health Partners for a comprehensive evaluation with our licensed psychiatrist.
Certified in addiction medicine, our psychiatrist can prescribe Suboxone through our comprehensive office-based opioid treatment (OBOT) and utilize all other necessary evidenced-based interventions, such as patient education, intensive therapy, and counseling, to steer you in the right direction—onto long-term recovery.
For more details about our Suboxone treatment services, contact EPIC Health Partners today at (434) 835-4601, or use our convenient online Request an Appointment form.