Suboxone is a prescription medication that is used to help treat patients dealing with opioid addiction. The medication contains buprenorphine and naloxone. The goal of treatment is to use Suboxone for pain relief and to lessen withdrawal symptoms and opioid cravings, reducing the patient’s relapse chances.
Buprenorphine is a partial opioid, which means it has the same effects of stronger drugs, like heroin, but because it’s only partial, it’s considered much weaker. It also has a “ceiling effect” which means that further dosage increases don’t bring about a stronger high, but the effects stay leveled off. This makes it difficult for patients to become dependent on the medication.
Naloxone, also part of the medication, is an opioid blocker. If a person is addicted to opioids and takes naloxone, they will begin to have uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. The combination of these two drugs goes hand in hand in aiding a successful recovery.
Drug half-life is the period of time for the concentration of the drug to be reduced by one half. It’s an important number to understand as it allows medical professionals to know how long the drug lasts in the body when it reaches a consistent, steady-state, and also what should happen if the medication needs to be stopped.
When calculating Suboxone half-life, both elimination half-lives of buprenorphine and naloxone should be taken into consideration. Buprenorphine elimination half-life is 24-42 hours, and naloxone is 2-12 hours. Overall, in 5-8 days, there should be no traces of Suboxone in a person’s bloodstream.
Because it tends to be used in aiding patients with serious addictions to opioids, like heroin and other prescription pills, Suboxone is usually taken for a long period of time, even after a patient has kicked their other opioid habit. For some, if they take Suboxone without staying under medical care, they can become addicted. As with other opioids, a Suboxone addiction would result in similar withdrawal symptoms.
Suboxone withdrawal symptoms would include:
As with other opioid withdrawal symptoms, the first few days are the toughest, with physical symptoms at their worst. After the first week, physical symptoms begin to subside and are replaced with depression, anxiety, and a few cravings.
Even if Suboxone is administered by a professional medical team, there are still side effects to consider. Generally, the following Suboxone side effects are among the most common.
As it is a partial opioid, there’s always the change for respiratory distress. Seek medical attention immediately for shallow or labored breathing.
Suboxone is metabolized by the liver and normally will stay in the system for 5-8 days. How long it stays in the body is determined by several factors such as the patient’s weight, age, the amount of the last dose, and how long the drug abuse has been going on.
Suboxone treatment comes in two phases — induction and maintenance. All treatment options should be overseen by a qualified medical professional to ensure the best results. Suboxone comes in two different forms, either a pill or strip. The Suboxone pill should be placed underneath the tongue, while the Suboxone strip can go under the tongue or along the inside of the cheek.
Dosage needs are dependent upon where the patient is in recovery. Induction treatments are needed when the patient is addicted to short-acting opioids like heroin, oxycodone, or morphine. The Suboxone oral film is recommended as a first dosage as the cheek insert seems to exacerbate withdrawal symptoms.
The initial Suboxone dosage will be low as the medical team begins to analyze how it affects the patient. The lowest dose is 2 mg buprenorphine / 0.5 mg naloxone. The medical team will continually monitor withdrawal symptoms and increase the dosage as needed. This trial and error can last for a few days to keep uncomfortable symptoms controlled.
During the maintenance phase, the patient and the medical team will assess the needs and goals going forward. A maintenance dosage will be given that helps keep the patient stable. It’s important to note that maintenance can last for a few months to a few years it’s all dependent upon the patient and what they are comfortable with.
Over time, both the patient and the medical team might decide it’s time to end Suboxone usage. When this happens, the dosage will be reduced over time, anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. The patient will most likely need to check in with their medical team frequently to assess their overall health and well-being.
Because Suboxone is a partial opioid there’s always a chance for abuse to occur. Taking too much of the drug, or taking it without medical intervention, could cause a Suboxone overdose. While it’s unlikely if monitored in a medical setting, there are risks associated with Suboxone. As with any medication, there’s always a possibility of overdose if used incorrectly.
Many Suboxone clinics across the country can aid in the recovery of patients suffering from opioid addiction. It’s important to find a drug rehabilitation center that offers patients help in dealing with withdrawal symptoms but also ways to cope with living a drug-free lifestyle. Tools like group therapy or individual counseling, along with a caring and knowledgeable medical team, can help patients get on the road to recovery.
If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction, try our nationwide directory and search find a Suboxone clinic near me.
Just like the various clinics throughout the country, there are plenty of doctors knowledgeable in helping treat and manage those with opioid addiction. Patients looking to start a treatment plan or those on a maintenance schedule should refer to our directory to find a Suboxone doctor.
Knowing your options and getting help with either an accredited clinic or doctor can make all the difference when dealing with opioid addiction. Having a team of educated doctors, counselors, and peers can aid in the success of recovery.