When people discuss addiction, they often focus on cocaine, meth, or heroin. They are the most harmful and life-threatening drugs on the market and require serious treatment.
But very few people realize that the medications used to treat drug addiction can cause emotional and physical dependence. That’s right: medicines like Suboxone can become serious problems for patients in their own right.
The following is a detailed guide on Suboxone abuse. We’ll discuss how to recognize the withdrawal issues and consider the best options for treatment.
What is Suboxone?
Suboxone is a fusion medicine that includes both naloxone and Buprenorphine. It’s commonly used during MAT (medication-assisted therapy) for opioid dependence, according to Harvard Health. It is a prescription medication for sublingual and buccal use.
Users place the drug under the tongue or between the cheeks and gums and let it dissolve. Clinical studies show that Suboxone is a highly effective drug for decreasing opioid misuse.
Is Suboxone Addictive?
Yes. Suboxone is addictive.
Those who abuse the drug risk Suboxone addiction. Because it is a legal medicine, users see it as a safer option for getting high. However, many don’t realize how dangerous Suboxone abuse can be.
The primary component of the Suboxone pill is the Buprenorphine. This substance is a type of opiate. While it is less impactful than a full opiate like morphine or heroin, it will still interfere with the central nervous system.
Suboxone is designed to block opiates from fully effecting specific parts of the human brain. Another substance in Suboxone is the naloxone. It inhibits the opiate-like effects. But, when the body absorbs it too fast, it can result in numerous withdrawal issues.
Therefore, patients who take Suboxone must read the instructions to avoid getting addicted to the drug. Stick to the user guidelines prescribed by your doctor; otherwise, they can create a dependency.
How Addictive Can Suboxone Be?
According to the Dawn Report, Suboxone emergency department visits have skyrocketed in recent years.
In 2005, over 3,000 patients who abused the drug ended up in the emergency room for treatment. But, in 2010, those visits increased to over 30,000. Because the drug is widely available, more and more people have started abusing it.
Over 52% of the 100,000 patients evaluated asked for emergency treatment because they abused the drug for recreational purposes—not for its medical purposes. At the same time, 42% wanted to detoxify the body from substance abuse.
Experts from the National Institutes of Health warn that, despite the currently available detox programs and treatment, relapse rates are at 90% or sometimes higher. This shows just how difficult it can be to detox on your own.
Based on reports from the Providers Clinical Support System (PCSS), Suboxone has a much lower potential for abuse than similar prescriptions used for treating opioid addiction.
When the drug was first released in the market, many opioid users abused the substance. But, as time passed, the lack of euphorigenic effects made it a not so favored alternative for drug abuse. As a result, abusers avoid using Suboxone as a primary narcotic.
- Recent research shows the demand for illegal Suboxone is driven not by the user’s need to get “high” but by their need to treat symptoms of opioid abuse (mental instability and pain).
Experts are concerned by how easily this health-threatening drug can be procured—especially if users don’t know the safe ways of using Suboxone. That’s why some users take more Suboxone than the body is supposed to handle, which predisposes them to addiction.
When someone who has been abusing the drug stops taking it completely, they will experience a range of different withdrawal symptoms.
How People Abuse Suboxone?
Even though Suboxone is a common medication for overcoming opioid addiction, some people abuse it by taking more than the prescribed dose. Their reason is simple: to get “high.”
Users abuse the drug for recreational purposes. They snort the pills or dissolve the film strips and inject them into their bloodstream.
Injecting the substance exposes users to bloodborne diseases like HIV. This is especially true if that needle is dirty or used by a different person. Nevertheless, many abusers prefer Suboxone injections since it gives them a more impactful high than having to snort the pills.
To avoid this, it’s crucial to understand Suboxone withdrawal symptoms and get immediate treatment. Supervised medical detox, like the one available at a Suboxone Detox Center in Texas, which is offered on Stonegate Center’s campus just west of Fort Worth, can help tremendously. Adequate treatment gives patients a much better chance of avoiding health complications.
Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms
Suboxone withdrawal without expert help can be a daunting process. The symptoms can be overbearing and incredibly hard to resist. Many users have a high risk of relapse.
Recognizing the symptoms is the first step towards treating dependency. Below is a list of some of the most common signs of Suboxone withdrawal.
The duration, severity, and impact of the symptoms vary from person to person. People who’ve abused the substance for an extended period can experience more debilitating and intense symptoms. Those who’ve rarely taken high amounts may feel less severe withdrawal symptoms.
If you or a loved one is experiencing Suboxone withdrawal, get treatment as soon as possible. A Medical Detox Center for Suboxone in Texas will help you through these terrible withdrawal symptoms and get your life back on track.
How Long Does it Take to Detox From Suboxone?
Suboxone withdrawal is similar to heroin withdrawal but with lighter symptoms. The withdrawal symptoms peak at 72 hours after the last dose.
After the first week, the symptoms will gradually subside. Intensity and frequency decrease, making the detoxification process more bearable. Here is a general guideline of the Suboxone withdrawal timeline users might experience.
The first week is the hardest, with several days of severe and debilitating symptoms. However, be aware that the drug affects different patients’ bodies differently.
Many factors can affect the timeline:
- A user’s body fat
- Metabolism, and
- Drug concentration.
Their mental condition and history of drug abuse also impact the timeline.
In some individuals, withdrawal issues may endure for well over four weeks. These include mood swings, insomnia, and body pain. Individuals with long-term Suboxone abuse can feel the symptoms for more than two months. That includes extended problems with anxiety and depression. However, symptoms will rarely persist longer than three months.
Note: Consistent Suboxone abuse exposes users to potential PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome), in which the symptoms can persist for a long time. That includes sleeping difficulties, irritability, and emotional instability.
How Long Does Suboxone Stay in The System?
The drug has a relatively long half-life, which ranges from 36–72 hours. This is very convenient for testing purposes. Since drug can remain in the system for three days, hair, saliva, urine, and blood tests can detect Suboxone in the user’s system.
Why Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is in Vogue in The Addiction Treatment Industry
MAT combines behavioral and counseling therapies with medication to help users overcome opioid addiction. MAT has helped many individuals who’ve struggled with addiction sustain their recovery, according to the FDA.
Based on clinical reports, MAT medication provides an “easy” way out. It relieves discomfort and cravings that result from a chemical imbalance in the system. Many of the medications used, like Suboxone, are deemed safe.
For example, numerous studies support Suboxone’s efficiency. When combined with psychosocial and counseling support, these pills become an effective solution for solving chronic opioid dependency.
Suboxone has become a popular medication for treating withdrawal issues. But it is not without flaws. Suboxone itself can be addictive and lead to side effects.
As a result, more attention is necessary to facilitate this treatment method and develop a more practical therapy that doesn’t expose patients to potential side effects.
Why Medical Professionals Prescribe Suboxone: The Pros & Cons
Using Suboxone in opiate addiction therapy has become a common practice.
Studies show that buprenorphine-based medication, like Suboxone, can effectively block other opioids from binding in the patient’s system. This helps them overcome the cravings for opioids and reduces the risk of opioid dependence.
One reason people rely on Suboxone is its ability to curb psychological cravings. When these cravings become too intense, many users relapse in their early stages of recovery.
Suboxone provides an effective solution that can alleviate cravings and help people get through a detox process. It helps patients stay focused on their journey to recovery.
Here are some of the most noted pros of this particular medication, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center.
Pros of Taking Suboxone
- FDA approved
- More useful than methadone therapy
- Practical access to treatment
- Can be bought with a prescription at a local pharmacy
- Easy access to treatment in rural areas with poor treatment options
Although the drug is a viable medication for managing opioid dependence, it too can create addiction. The Buprenorphine can create a euphoric effect, which many opiate abusers crave. Therefore, users become vulnerable to abuse this medication.
Side effects present further problems. A clinical study shows that Suboxone is a relatively safe medication. However, side effects such as nausea, vomiting, headaches, constipation, sedation, etc. may still occur.
When Suboxone is paired with another drug (heroin, for example) even more serious complications can result. The effects of both substances will be amplified, and patients will require addiction therapy.
Here are some cons of this medication according to the National Institutes of Health.
Cons of Taking Suboxone
- Potential for overdose
- Potential for drug abuse
- Potential side effects or health complications
Side effects are uncommon but can still happen. They may cause hormone problems, allergic reactions, and even liver damage. The chemicals in the drug can reduce the cortisol level in the body. This can lead to adrenal insufficiency.
Another major complication is liver damage, due to hepatitis or some other complication. Because of these side effects, doctors prescribe Suboxone only for short-term use.
To avoid serious health complications or dependency, the FDA recommends that doctors limit the intake of Suboxone and supervise administration in high-risk patients. Without proper monitoring, regulating drug intake is difficult.
How Do Detox Centers Get Someone Off Suboxone?
Detoxification can flush out all the traces of Suboxone from the system and help patients overcome withdrawal. Constant supervision will make the journey easier and safe.
The process can take from a week to one month, depending on the severity of the addiction. It’s best to wait 90 days after a full detox to ensure that withdrawal issues have completely disappeared. Otherwise, patients may go back to their old habits.
Here is a general guideline of the detox process for Suboxone addicted patients.
Overcoming physical cravings is just half of dealing with Suboxone dependence. Patients must learn to control their emotional challenges at all times. If they become aware of their destructive habits, they won’t use the drug again when confronted with stress or anxiety.
A typical treatment at a licensed facility includes medications as well as cognitive and behavioral therapy. Doctors will first address why you became addicted to the drug. Then they will discuss how you can overcome your addiction.
If you experience severe withdrawal issues or health complications, you may be advised to take proper medication. According to clinical studies, adequate mediation therapy can reduce the toxicity in the body and help patients maintain stability.
Trying to overcome Suboxone addiction all by yourself is rarely effective. Instead of going it alone, look for a suboxone withdrawal treatment program in your area. It’s the safest option. A controlled environment will drastically reduce your chances of a relapse. Check out our two options if you’re in the Dallas-Fort Worth or surrounding areas like New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, etc.:
- 90-day Suboxone addiction treatment program for Women in Texas
- 90-day Suboxone addiction treatment program for Men in Texas
Treatment Programs or Therapies for People Wanting to Manage Opioid Addiction Without Medication
With therapy, detox, and aftercare support, it’s possible to manage Suboxone addiction. There is no need for medication if you reach out for help as soon as possible. According to experts, it is difficult but absolutely doable.
Common withdrawal management strategies without medication include:
- Constant interpersonal support
- Eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of fluids
- Keeping good hygiene
- Getting enough sleep
- Staying in a safe, controlled environment
Constant Interpersonal Support
Experienced professionals at our Medical Detox Center for Suboxone in North Texas can help patients build interpersonal, coping, and management skills. Since addicts are vulnerable to relapse, they need this interpersonal environment. That’s why we’re big on unity in the community, here, on our 125+ acre campus.
Emotional and physical support will help them feel safe. Based on clinical reports, those who don’t learn how to manage their emotional problems on their own are more likely to start taking the drug again.
That’s why proper support is crucial. Those who are addicted to Suboxone can choose between inpatient or outpatient treatment.
With inpatient treatment, patients get to live in the facility, as seen at our 90-day Inpatient Addiction Treatment Center for Suboxone (Note: We also offer 45-day and 60-day programs if the 90-day stay isn’t covered by your health insurance). In fact, longer-term rehab centers have the lowest chance of relapse and the highest chance of a successful recovery when combined with an effective after-care plan like sober living.
At our Inpatient Addiction Treatment Center in Dallas-Fort Worth, patients have 24/7 monitoring and follow proper wellness, counseling, and therapy activities. All treatment options are designed to help patients overcome their addiction in a safe environment.
Outpatient treatment, on the other hand, provides greater flexibility. This option is best for individuals with mild dependency. They can maintain their routine and visit the facility several times a week.
Eating Healthy Foods and Drinking Plenty of Fluids
Metabolism plays a key role in detoxifying the body. When people abuse a substance, the chemicals harm their systems. Adequate nutrition and fluids will help revitalize their systems and supply a healthy amount of energy.
To recover from substance abuse without medication, the body must process the energy. But, to make that happen, the organs should function properly. All the vitamins you eat keep the organs healthy, and the immune system working, advises the National Library of Medicine.
Since substance abuse can reduce appetite and affect the gastrointestinal system, you will need all the healthy foods you can get. Replenishing the nutrients and balancing the electrolytes can help the body battle the addiction.
Paying Attention to Hygiene
Self-care and hygiene are essential to getting sober. Patients must start a new way of life to be ready for their transformation process. Self-care teaches patients to value their personal health. They get to maximize their recovery and reintegrate into society.
Minding their hygiene teaches them about the value of commitment and spiritual wellness. By feeling better about themselves, patients will get to savor their sobriety.
Getting Enough Sleep
Sleeping can benefit the body in more ways than one. According to medical experts, it recharges the central nervous system and boosts cognition, productivity, and focus. It also helps patients control their blood pressure, which is essential for a healthy heart.
Another benefit of rest is stable emotional health. Many Suboxone addicts experience drastic mood changes. Sleep can help control their behavior and make them feel more accessible during the day.
Sleep is vital for patients who want to improve their social skills and get back to society.
Staying in a Safe, Controlled Environment
For an addict, withdrawal can be agonizing. Without constant supervision, they can easily relapse. But a controlled environment creates a safe place for patients to completely revamp their lives. Enrolling in a Suboxone addiction treatment program, people will get their lives back. They can avoid stress, get constant medical support, and prevent a relapse.
Detox therapy can be a long and uncomfortable process. But, for those hoping to manage their Suboxone dependency, early treatment is crucial. Individuals who only abused the drug for a short time will require less intense treatment.
Those who have developed severe emotional and physical dependency must learn to live a drug-free life. Remember, don’t try to break the addiction by yourself. Get the help and treatment you deserve.
If you’d like to speak to someone about long-term treatment options for your drug and alcohol addiction, give us a call at (817) 993-9733 or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are a JCAHO-accredited rehab facility that offers a gender-separate and faith-based approach to recovery.
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John Eckelbarger is a Business Development Representative for Stonegate Center. With a BSA in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin, he has an interest in the neurobiology of addiction & pharmacology of drugs. He hopes to bolster Stonegate Center to the forefront of addiction medicine through bold, innovative content. He is currently pursuing his MBA in Finance from Texas Christian University.