Suboxone is referred to as the pharmacological “gold standard” of opioid addiction treatment. This medication, which is a combination of both buprenorphine and naloxone, is designed to reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms while also helping limit cravings for those who are detoxing from opioids like heroin, oxycodone, and fentanyl. With both of these active ingredients working in concert, recovering opioid users not only have an easier time detoxing, but also have less of a risk of abusing Suboxone.
It can seem counterintuitive to prescribe an opioid-based medication to someone who is trying to stop abusing opioids. But, Suboxone is prescribed in a similar manner that benzodiazepines or steroids would be prescribed when tapering someone off of them. Suboxone works to help opioid addicted individuals slowly taper off of the drug, keeping them more physically and mentally stable during their detox. Suboxone has proven, time and time again, that their benefits outweigh the risks for those wanting to establish a life of recovery for themselves.
History of Suboxone
Opioid addiction and dependence is not anything new to medical and mental health professionals. In fact, buprenorphine was first developed in 1966 in an effort to provide pain patients with a safer, less addictive opioid than morphine, which was the standard painkiller at the time. But, it would not become mainstream until the 2000’s, when the opioid epidemic started building.
Similar to buprenorphine, naloxone was also developed in the 1960’s. Originally, this medication came to be in an effort to treat constipation caused by opioid use. But it became clear rather quickly that naloxone also had the ability to reverse the effects of opioids, which is why it started being used to treat opioid overdoses.
Naloxone and what it does may seem somewhat new to many people, but it is anything but. Naloxone received FDA approval in 1971 to be used to treat opioid overdoses. By 1996, more than a dozen states had authorized the use of naloxone for regular everyday citizens. 25 years later, we are now equipping naloxone with all first responders, making it available at pharmacies across the nation, and encouraging the use of it in the event that an opioid overdose has occurred.
The combination of buprenorphine and naloxone to create Suboxone did not occur until the 2000’s, when it was approved for use in addiction treatment centers and is still used today.
How Does Suboxone Work?
To put it simply, Suboxone works to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings in someone who is detoxing from opioids. The inner workings of how this medication interacts with the brain, however, is much more complex.
Within the brain, there are neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are known as the body’s “chemical messengers”, as they send signals and attach to various receptors throughout the brain. When an opioid is consumed, it reaches the neurotransmitters and is dispersed out to the opioid receptors. Activation of those receptors then occur, signaling to the body that opioids are present and symptoms develop such as euphoria, relaxation, and pain relief. When someone who is dependent on opioids suddenly stops abusing them, the opioid receptors get the signal that this type of drug is no longer being abused. This then promotes the development of withdrawal symptoms and cravings, which can be very painful and distracting.
But, when Suboxone is being consumed as directed by a medical professional, the opioid receptors in the brain become partially activated without producing symptoms related to getting high on opioids. This action helps to calm withdrawal symptoms and cravings, making it easier for a person to detox and make their way into recovery.
Unfortunately, despite Suboxone being highly effective in treating symptoms related to opioid withdrawal, it is also a substance that can be abused. Since Suboxone contains naloxone, however, it often takes a large amount of buprenorphine to create desired symptoms. That does not stop those who are craving an opioid high, though, and continued abuse of Suboxone can quickly lead to addiction.
The signs and symptoms of Suboxone addiction are similar to that of any other type of opioid addiction. Physically, the person may appear to have dark, sunken eyes, poor hygiene, and a frail stature. From a psychological and emotional standpoint, the person may be anxious, depressed, have mood swings, and be detached from their surroundings. The most important thing that someone who is addicted to Suboxone can do is reach out for help, especially if they are dependent and are in need of detox services.
Symptoms of Suboxone Withdrawal
Anytime a person is dependent on a mind-altering substance, it means that their bodies and minds cannot properly function any longer without that substance. So, when someone who is dependent on Suboxone suddenly stops using, they develop withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can become so distressing that a person might go right back to abusing Suboxone to get some relief. Some of these symptoms can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Sweats and chills
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Abdominal pain
- Problems concentrating
The symptoms that a person develops tend to be reflective of the severity of their addiction. In other words, the more intense the Suboxone addiction, the more plentiful and painful these withdrawal symptoms can be.
Suboxone Detox in San Francisco
Even though Suboxone is supposed to be used to help treat opioid dependence, it is often a drug that people need to detox from. Suboxone detox looks similar to any other type of opioid detox, however the use of medication-assisted treatment may be adjusted. It is not recommended to detox someone dependent on Suboxone with Suboxone, rather it may be a better idea to utilize other FDA-approved medications, like methadone. Or, there is the option to detox without the use of any prescription medications but to do so in the presence of medical professionals to ensure safety. The way in which a person decides to detox in this case will be based on a number of personal factors.
At Marina Harbor Detox, our luxury Suboxone detox facility helps individuals find the help they need to live a life free of substances.