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Suboxone: How It's Used, Side Effects & Addiction

Home » Our Approach » Medication-Assisted Treatment » Suboxone: Treatment, Uses & Addiction

Suboxone is an FDA-approved prescription medication specifically designed to treat opioid addiction. It is a combination of buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist that reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings, and naloxone, an opioid antagonist that prevents the effects of opioids, especially in the case of misuse by injection. Together, these compounds balance out to mitigate opioid dependence, providing a safer avenue towards recovery.

At Peachtree Recovery Solutions, we provide Suboxone as an option for Medication-Assisted Treatment programs as part of our addiction treatment services in the Atlanta area. 

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What is Suboxone

Suboxone treatment is a comprehensive medication-assisted treatment (MAT) that involves the supervised administration of Suboxone to help individuals with opioid dependency reduce their addiction and withdrawal symptoms. This treatment typically operates alongside counseling and psychosocial support, providing a holistic approach to combat opioid addiction.

Is Suboxone Addictive?

Though Suboxone is formulated to treat opioid addiction, there’s a potential for misuse or dependency due to its opioid-like effects. However, when taken as prescribed and under medical supervision, the risk of addiction is significantly lower compared to other opioids.

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Side Effects of Suboxone

While Suboxone is instrumental in opioid addiction treatment, it may cause several side effects, including:

Clients are advised to report any side effects to their healthcare provider immediately to manage them effectively.

Sublocade vs Suboxone

Sublocade and Suboxone are both based on buprenorphine, but they are administered differently. Sublocade is an extended-release injectable form of buprenorphine, providing a consistent medication level, reducing daily or weekly dosing necessity, and minimizing abuse potential. On the other hand, Suboxone is typically administered through sublingual strips and requires consistent, responsible use.

Suboxone vs Vivitrol

Suboxone reduces opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms, acting as a partial opioid agonist. It’s often used during the early stages of treatment and requires a strict administration schedule. Conversely, Vivitrol, containing naltrexone, is an opioid antagonist administered through monthly injections, blocking the euphoric effects of opioids. Unlike Suboxone, Vivitrol is non-narcotic and doesn’t pose a risk for addiction. Patients must be fully detoxed from opioids before starting Vivitrol to avoid sudden withdrawal, making it suitable for the maintenance phase of recovery. The choice between Suboxone and Vivitrol often depends on the individual’s unique circumstances, the stage of their treatment, and their healthcare provider’s recommendation.

What If I Use Opioids While on Suboxone?

Using opioids while on Suboxone is highly dangerous and counterproductive to the treatment of opioid dependence. Here’s what happens and why it’s a risk:

  1. Reduced Euphoria: Suboxone contains buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist, and naloxone, an opioid antagonist. Buprenorphine occupies the opioid receptors in the brain, often with a stronger affinity than other opioids. However, it doesn’t stimulate these receptors to the same extent as full opioids, meaning it reduces the characteristic ‘high’ associated with opioid use. If someone uses opioids while taking Suboxone, they are unlikely to experience the full euphoric effect they might expect, leading to frustration and potentially, the consumption of dangerously high opioid doses in search of that high.

  2. Risk of Overdose: Because of the reduced effect of opioids, there’s a significant risk that an individual might attempt to overcome this by taking large quantities of the opioid, which can easily lead to overdose. Overdosing is dangerous and potentially fatal, as it can result in respiratory depression, coma, or death.

  3. Precipitated Withdrawal: If a person dependent on opioids takes Suboxone too soon after using opioids, instead of the intended gradual reduction of withdrawal symptoms and elimination of cravings, the naloxone in Suboxone can rapidly displace the opioids from their receptors, causing an abrupt and intense onset of withdrawal symptoms. This condition, known as precipitated withdrawal, can be extremely uncomfortable.

  4. Treatment Setback: Using opioids while on Suboxone essentially nullifies the purpose of the treatment. Suboxone is used to reduce dependency and ultimately achieve recovery from opioid addiction. Misusing opioids during the treatment works against these goals and can set back the progress significantly.

Benefits of suboxone use in Medication-Assisted Treatment

Suboxone plays a critical role in Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for individuals struggling with opioid addiction. Incorporating Suboxone in MAT programs offers several substantial benefits:

  1. Reduced Cravings and Withdrawal Symptoms: Suboxone helps diminish the severity of opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings. By binding to the same receptors as opioids, it reduces and maintains low withdrawal symptoms, facilitating a more comfortable and manageable detoxification process.

  2. Lower Potential for Abuse: Suboxone combines buprenorphine (a partial opioid agonist) with naloxone (an opioid antagonist). While buprenorphine can produce opioid-like effects, naloxone blocks the high that opioids provide, discouraging misuse. The presence of naloxone induces withdrawal symptoms if Suboxone is injected, further reducing its abuse potential.

  3. Improved Treatment Compliance: Given its ceiling effect, where increasing the dose does not enhance euphoria after reaching a certain point, and its once-daily sublingual administration, Suboxone can improve patient compliance with treatment. It allows for take-home prescriptions after a stable dosing is achieved, helping patients maintain their regular daily routines and enhancing adherence to treatment programs.

  4. Enhanced Safety: Suboxone poses less risk of respiratory depression, a common side effect of other opioids, and is generally regarded as safer. It’s also associated with a lower risk of overdose, contributing to its suitability for long-term management of opioid dependence.

  5. Holistic Recovery Support: When used as part of MAT, Suboxone supports a more holistic approach to opioid addiction treatment. MAT programs combine medication with counseling and behavioral therapies, offering a comprehensive treatment strategy. This combination addresses the physical aspects of addiction through medication while also tackling psychological, emotional, and behavioral issues through therapy.

  6. Social Functioning and Quality of Life: By alleviating withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings, Suboxone allows individuals to recover their personal and professional lives during treatment, which can lead to improved social functioning and overall life quality. It provides a stable foundation from which individuals can rebuild their relationships, work or education commitments, and other aspects of their lives that were affected by opioid addiction.

Begin Medication-Assisted Treatment in Atlanta Today!

Battling addiction can feel like an uphill struggle, but you don’t have to face it alone. Our Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) program offers a comprehensive approach to addiction recovery, combining medication, counseling, and personalized support. This powerful combination is designed to help you overcome addiction and regain control over your life.

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