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Suboxone 2018-11-08T17:50:32+00:00

Negative Effects of Suboxone

Suboxone is a prescription medication that is used in the treatment of opioid use disorder. Opioids, meaning “like opium,” are a class of medications and drugs that is primarily used to act on the body’s chief pain systems and access points to relieve pain. Examples of opioids include Vicodin, OxyContin, morphine and heroin. Suboxone contains a drug in the opioid class, the partial opioid activator buprenorphine. It also contains the opioid reversal agent naloxone. These medications work in concert to reduce the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, while offering some level of protection against misuse, abuse, overdose and diversion compared to other opioids.

Suboxone is a unique medication for several reasons. First, at low doses, the buprenorphine within it has effects similar to other opioids, though doses beyond roughly 32mg do not significantly increase the opioid effect. This is not the case with full opioid activators such as methadone or heroin. Second, it is taken only after withdrawal symptoms have already begun, because the body’s strong preference for buprenorphine would lead the body to kick other full opioid activators out of its access sites to accommodate buprenorphine, which is only a partial opioid activator. That situation would create the very withdrawal that users are trying to avoid. Third, it is taken by absorbing it into the mucous membranes under the tongue or inside the cheek, due to its poor availability to the body if taken by mouth. Fourth, the naloxone contained in Suboxone reverses (to a degree) the effect of opioids, including buprenorphine, if Suboxone is taken by injection or taken by nose. Finally, a Suboxone prescription must be written by a provider who has obtained federal permission to prescribe it and has taken training to do so.

You may have heard of Suboxone before. Perhaps you’ve received Suboxone from a friend, family member or other associate, and you’re not alone if you have. More than one million people have received or taken Suboxone in a non-prescribed way. While some take it to experience euphoria, many take it to avoid withdrawal symptoms. It begins working to relieve withdrawal symptoms within an hour, and it has a high success rate for treating these symptoms. While these qualities make Suboxone a highly useful medication, these same qualities are also responsible for its potential to be misused and diverted.

As with other opioid drugs, Suboxone can cause symptoms of physical and psychological dependence, especially when it is used in a non-prescribed fashion. The problematic use of Suboxone and other opioids is referred to by health professionals as an opioid use disorder. As with all substances of abuse, Suboxone addiction occurs when a person cannot control his or her drug usage and spends increasing amounts of time and resources around the drug, using the drug or recovering from its effects.

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Are you taking Suboxone or a similar medication in a medically unintended way? Have you found yourself taking more than prescribed without talking to your provider? Have you been obtaining it without a prescription? If you or your friends or family believe that you might have an opioid use disorder, Transformations Treatment Center can support you. We have holistic, evidence-based treatment programs that will empower you to effectively counter addiction, along with its unhealthy patterns and destructive consequences.

How Suboxone Works in Your Body

Your body has a natural system for responding to pain: it creates endorphins. The word endorphin stands for endogenous morphine, with endogenous meaning “originating within the body.” Endorphins act like keys to the doors of the nervous system that are responsible for slowing down pain signals. Opioids, including Suboxone, powerfully mimic this endorphin effect at certain access points in this system called mu-opioid receptors. However, opioid drugs are much more potent than your endorphins, so constant or excessive exposure to opioids leads your brain to reduce its own production of endorphins. It also causes the brain to consider the constant presence of the opioid drugs to be the body’s new normal. This is the point where your body is physically dependent on the opioid, and the point at which you will experience opioid withdrawal symptoms if the drug is abruptly stopped or reduced.

Opioid withdrawal signs and symptoms result in a flu-like state, including:

  • Runny nose, coughing, salivating, tearing and yawning
  • Lack of temperature regulation
  • Dilated pupils
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Digestive tract discomfort, nausea and vomiting
  • Loose stools or diarrhea

Most opioid withdrawal peaks within three to four days, but it can last for weeks or even months. It is the presence of withdrawal that tends to give Suboxone both its medical value and leads to its non-prescribed usage. It is very effective at addressing these withdrawal symptoms because of the body’s preference for buprenorphine at the mu-opioid receptor.

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Suboxone
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Even though its ability to treat withdrawal symptoms makes it a valuable medication, Suboxone can create euphoria, or a “high.” With constant exposure to the drug over time, your brain will rearrange and remodel itself to try to duplicate as much of this euphoria as possible. Since your brain now views your addiction as normal, you’re more prone to addictive behaviors.

How to Spot Suboxone-Related Problems

There are indicators that can help you or your loved ones identify problematic Suboxone usage. As with all abusable substances, non-prescribed usage is always problematic. Similarly, attempting to use Suboxone in larger doses or longer than prescribed can indicate misuse. Unsuccessful attempts to stop using it, using it despite negative consequences, and social or legal problems resulting from use can also be strong clues.

Treating Suboxone Addiction

Opioid withdrawal is rarely fatal, but it can be remarkably unpleasant, so treatment of addiction to Suboxone and other opioids usually begins with medical detoxification. Medical staff monitors vital signs for at least 72 hours. Since Suboxone was designed to help you manage opioid withdrawal symptoms, physicians may allow you to directly taper off of it in a controlled setting.

Mental health professionals can help you identify and address conditions that are sometimes masked by the use of substances, including depression, anxiety disorders or other conditions. This is not only important for treating those conditions, but also to help make addiction treatment more effective.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the psychotherapy of choice when addressing problems with opioid use. CBT can help you change your behavior by showing you how to challenge and re-evaluate your thoughts and emotions. Along with participating in a 12-step-based program, CBT shows the best evidence for treating addictive behaviors. Other approaches include motivational interviewing (which aims to inspire you to make changes through a series of nonjudgmental, nonconfrontational interviews), and mindfulness-based stress reduction, a technique that helps you stay tuned in and attentive to your own thoughts, feelings and behaviors as they are happening.

At Transformations Treatment Center, we can help you recover from the problematic usage of Suboxone or similar medications. Our care models include holistic treatment that is tailored to your unique needs, and it is based on the best available scientific evidence. We are committed to helping you lead a healthy, substance-free lifestyle. Contact us today for more information on our certified staff of professionals and first-rate facilities.

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Suboxone
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