Adult and Adolescent Mental Health Blog

The team at Fifth Avenue Psychiatry aims to help both adults and adolescents with substance abuse and mental health issues.

What Is Suboxone and Is It Safe for Prescription Drug and Cocaine Detox

What Is Suboxone and Is It Safe for Prescription Drug and Cocaine Detox?

Medically assisted treatments using Suboxone have a real chance to impact a national health crisis that negatively impacts the nation’s economy by over $78 billion each year,

Despite efforts to quell the national epidemic, the nation’s prescription opioid drug abuse crisis continues to plague the country. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 130 people in the country succumb to deaths related to an opioid overdose on a daily basis.

Even worse, abuse of common opioid drugs like hydrocodone, oxycodone, opium, and morphine has served as a gateway for many Americans into using more dangerous substances. Close to 80% of Americans who go on to use heroin first began abusing prescription opioids. That’s why access to an effective treatment strategy is so vital.

Anyone who is concerned about their prescription opioid use or the health of a loved one can benefit from learning more about how the treatment works.

Why Suboxone Is Used in Medication Assisted Treatment

While the active chemical ingredient in Suboxone, buprenorphine, is not familiar to most Americans, it has actually been approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA) for close to two decades. Approved officially by the FDA in 2002, the chemical that would later be branded for retail consumption as Suboxone was developed as an opioid abuse treatment alternative to methadone and naltrexone.

Generally speaking, the use of Suboxone does not cause euphoria in patients, is not addictive, and produces consistent results comparable to or better than methadone and naltrexone. As a result, the medically assisted substance abuse treatments using Suboxone have become increasingly common over the past twenty years.

Another major advantage of Suboxone is that it can be administered as a prescription drug. Previously developed opioid addiction treatments like methadone require patients to visit specialized clinics to undergo heavily monitored treatments. Ease of access has played a large role in making Suboxone so successful compared to its predecessors.

While the active chemical ingredient in Suboxone, buprenorphine, is not familiar to most Americans, it has actually been approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA) for close to two decades. Approved officially by the FDA in 2002, the chemical that would later be branded for retail consumption as Suboxone was developed as an opioid abuse treatment alternative to methadone and naltrexone.

Generally speaking, the use of Suboxone does not cause euphoria in patients, is not addictive, and produces consistent results comparable to or better than methadone and naltrexone. As a result, the medically assisted substance abuse treatments using Suboxone have become increasingly common over the past twenty years.

Another major advantage of Suboxone is that it can be administered as a prescription drug. Previously developed opioid addiction treatments like methadone require patients to visit specialized clinics to undergo heavily monitored treatments. Ease of access has played a large role in making Suboxone so successful compared to its predecessors.

Learn More About Medication Assisted Treatment

How Does Suboxone Work?

Buprenorphine, the active chemical ingredient in Suboxone, is known as an “partial opioid agonist” and minimizes the withdrawal symptoms that comes with opioid addiction, easing the patient’s ability to stop abusing prescription drugs.

Naloxone, a secondary chemical ingredient also found in Suboxone, is known as a “a pure opioid antagonist” and blocks the opioid receptors in the brain from receiving signals for approximately 24-hours. This effectively eliminates the effects of abusing opioid drugs, disincentivizing individuals from abusing the drug while they are taking Suboxone. The chemical is also used to stop an opioid drug overdose.

Why Is Suboxone Treatment Necessary?

It may seem counterproductive to some to treat an opioid drug problem with another opioid drug, but the reality is that chemical dependence affecting addicts is usually far too powerful to overcome with willpower alone.

Years of research have shown that “weaning” a loved one off of a prescription opioid drug with specialized medication and regular medical supervision is the most effective way to deal with the addiction long term.

Is Suboxone Treatment Safe

For most patients, the side-effects associated with Suboxone use are mild. While a small sample of patients some may have more adverse reaction to the drug, the most common side-effects are limited to symptoms such as:

  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Increasing sweating
  • Constipation
  • Changes in Appetite
  • Insomnia

What About Cocaine Abuse Treatment?

When administered with the opioid-blocking chemical naltrexone, buprenorphine has been shown to be effective at curbing the use of cocaine as well. By interfering with the body’s dopamine receptors, the drug is capable of discouraging the use of cocaine much in the same way that Suboxone does for prescription opioid drugs. Currently, clinical trials are underway in order to develop a prescription version of the drug.

Learn More About Cocaine Addiction

Medical Suboxone Benefits and Risks

It’s important to review the general benefits and risks associated with Suboxone before reaching out to a medical professional about the treatment. Each patient reacts to medications differently, and no two opioid prescription drug problems are exactly alike. That being said, here are the key pros and cons to consider.

Benefits

Used properly and under the guidance of an experienced medical staff, Suboxone offers the following:

  • Low risk for adverse chemical reactions, abuse and overdose
  • Easy access allows patients to carry on with regular lives
  • Suboxone limits both cravings and withdrawal symptoms
  • Medically assisted treatment minimizes risk of relapse

Risks

When intentionally abused or improperly administered, the following health risks are associated with Suboxone use:

  • Causes feelings of euphoria in some patients
  • Potential for psychological dependence
  • Dangerous interactions with alcohol
  • Depression and anxiety from Suboxone withdrawal

Dangers of Recreational Suboxone Use

It is possible in some cases for individuals who experience euphoria when taking Suboxone to develop a psychological dependence on the drug. In other cases, a person may become so used to taking Suboxone that they still feel a longing to do so after their treatment ends. In some worst case scenarios, those addicted to opioid prescription drugs may seek out Suboxone to hold them over until they can obtain their preferred drug.

It should also be noted that combining the drug with alcohol wreaks havoc on the central nervous system with potentially fatal results. That being said, recreational Suboxone use is fairly uncommon due to its chemical properties which make it non-addictive and non-euphoric for most patients.

Considering Treatment for Suboxone Abuse

Considering how serious a problem opioid addiction is in this country, it’s important for families to be on guard against issues like Suboxone abuse. On the other hand, the benefits associated with Suboxone should not be diminished. For most patients, the drug has played a significant role in getting them off of prescription opioid drugs and back to a normal and productive life.

The path toward recovery is difficult, especially when it comes to the opioid epidemic. Working with experienced and knowledgeable medical professionals available increases a family’s odds of navigating the storm that comes with a loved one’s opioid abuse. The experts at Fifth Avenue Psychiatry are available now to help families start working toward a solution and can be reached online or by phone at (212) 734-0506.

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