What is Suboxone?
Suboxone® contains buprenorphine plus another medication called naloxone. The naloxone is added to prevent abuse—it brings on withdrawal in people who abuse buprenorphine by injecting it.
Naloxone blocks the effects of opioids such as morphine, codeine, and heroin. If buprenorphine and naloxone is injected, naloxone will block the effects of buprenorphine and lead to withdrawal symptoms in a person with an opioid addiction. When administered under the tongue as directed, naloxone will not affect the actions of buprenorphine.
Buprenorphine and naloxone is used to treat opiate addiction. Buprenorphine is long acting and can lead to taking the medication every other day.
*Examples of common opiates include: Heroin, Oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet) Morphine, Lortab, Vicodin, Fentanyl, Tramadol, Darvicet, Codeine, and Hydrocodone. These are all narcotic analgesics, or painkillers.
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How is Suboxone Used in Treatment?
At Choices of Louisiana, Inc., the goal is to reduce illegal opiate use. The medical community recognizes opioid addiction as a chronic medical disorder that can be treated effectively with a combination of medication and psychosocial services. With proper dosing and counseling, a patient in treatment will improve their health and social productivity. Another benefit of treatment is that the negative consequences of addiction such as crime, jail time, disease and premature death. Treatment is planned to eliminate opiate use among addicts by stabilizing them on methadone for as long as needed to help restore their lives and avoid returning to old behaviors of using illegal drugs.
The effects of MMT are to relieve the cravings of narcotics, suppress cravings, and block the “high” associated with heroin and pain pills. MMT is safe and non-sedating. If on the proper dosage, Methadone is considered to be so safe that pregnant women that are addicted to opiates can take it.
How effective is Methadone Maintenance Treatment?
The success of methadone in decreasing criminality, death, disease and illegal drug use is well recognized:
Methadone is the most effective treatment for opiate addiction
- After other drug treatment modalities have failed (e.g., drug free outpatient treatment, therapeutic communities and chemical dependency treatment), patients choose MMT. Methadone is the most rigorously studied and has yielded the best results. It is cost effective, individual patient based
- Methadone works by “occupying” the receptors in the brain that are affected by heroin and other opiates
- Blocks the high and sedating effects of opiates
- Minimizes relapse by relieving the cravings for opiates
- Relieves symptoms of withdrawals
- Does not cause euphoria (a “high”) or intoxication once stabilized on the proper dosage. Therefore, allowing a person to work and participate normally in society
- It is metabolized slowly, therefore, can only be taken once again. This is unlike short-term acting opiates that need to be taken multiple times a day to combat withdrawals and sickness
Treatment Benefits for Families, Loved Ones, and Society
- Enriched family stability
- Improved employment stability
- Reduced or Stopped Use of Injection Drugs – Suboxone is taken orally; therefore, there is no need for a needle. The effects of Suboxone last longer than heroin or opiate-based drugs
- Disease Transmission Reduction – Maintenance therapy reduces the frequency of injecting and of needle sharing. Treatment also provides an important point of contact with service providers and supplies an opportunity to teach drug users harm reduction techniques such as how to prevent HIV/AIDs, STDs, hepatitis, endocarditis, tuberculosis and other health problems that endanger drug users
- Reduced Risk of Overdose
- Reduced Mortality
- Treatment reduces criminal behavior Drug offense arrests decline because Suboxone patients reduce or stop buying and using illegal drugs. Arrests for predatory crimes decline because Suboxone patients no longer need to finance costly opiate addiction and because treatment allows many patients to stabilize their lives and return to legitimate employment
Is Suboxone Safe for Pregnant Women?
Buprenorphine and naloxone is not known whether it is harmful to an unborn baby. Use of this medication during pregnancy may cause withdrawal symptoms in a newborn baby. Do not take this medication if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Methadone is the only approved medication for the treatment of opioid addiction during pregnancy. When MMT is properly administered with appropriate medical care, there is no reported evidence of harm to the mother or to the fetus, slowing of fetal growth, or illness of the newborn baby. It is not recommended to withdraw from Methadone if found out to be pregnant because the risk of relapse increases dramatically. Due to the importance of health to both the mother and baby, pregnant women are given preference for admission at Choices of Louisiana, Inc. and arrangements are made for proper medical care throughout the pregnancy.
Adverse Reactions with Suboxone
Take this medication as only directed by your physician. Feel free to ask as many questions as you need to gain understanding. Our staff is highly qualified and will be able to answer any of your concerns.
The medication will not work properly if you chew or swallow the tablets. Doing so will result in withdrawal symptoms. Do not inject this medication due to the danger of “shooting up” and will result in bad withdrawal symptoms. You must store Suboxone at room temperature and away from heat and moisture.
– Most Common Side Effects: Constipation, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, headache, sweating, itching, nausea
– Severe Side Effects (SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION)
Allergic reactions (difficulty breathing, swelling of mouth, tightness in chest), confusion, irregular heartbeat, seizures, liver problems such as yellowing of the eyes, dark colored urine, light colored stools, lower stomach pain, decreased appetite for several days
Medication levels are individually determined and are based on the effective management of cravings and withdrawal symptoms. The proper maintenance dose is one at which narcotic craving is averted, without creating euphoria, sedation or analgesia for 24 to 36 hours. Studies of Suboxone effectiveness have shown that doses between 4mg-24mg a day are required for most patients are more effective in helping patients reduce opiate use, stay in treatment, and reduce criminal behaviors.
Suboxone is a film that is used in maintenance treatment to be used with a complete treatment plan including counseling and psychosocial support.
Is Suboxone Addictive?
Addiction is the physical dependence and tolerance to a drug or substance, and is characterized by compulsive use of the drug, despite adverse consequences. Those that are dependent up on their medication in an opiate program are able for function completely normal in society, by maintaining employment, have no physical impairment, and raise their families. Misunderstandings concerning Suboxone have led some to believe that drug addiction is not a disease that can be treated medically. With that said, do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor. Doing so will result in withdrawal symptoms.
For many addicts, the alternative to treatment is continued illegal opiate abuse, criminal behavior, jail time, health consequences, and premature death.
The duration of treatment should be individually and clinically determined. Studies have shown that positive outcomes are contingent upon length of treatment. Appropriate referrals are made throughout the treatment process. Continued maintenance is based on a clinically effective dose used with counseling. The decision to medically taper off of the medication will be made by the patient and treatment team. A very slow taper is recommended and those patients with a high risk of relapse should be re-stabilized.