Opioids, or narcotics, are a class of drugs chemically related to heroin, including heroin and prescription painkillers such as fentanyl, morphine, and hydrocodone, among others. In recent years, opioid abuse has reached record levels in the United States; in 2015, more than 2 million people struggled with opioid-related substance abuse, and more than 33,000 Americans died of an opioid overdose. In addition to the tragedy of these lives lost, the country faces an economic burden associated with overcoming opioid addiction. The cost of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement adds up to roughly $78.5 billion.

Overcoming Opioid Addiction and Medication Maintenance Treatment

Because of the dramatic personal and financial cost associated with opioid abuse, the medical community continues to search for effective methods to overcoming opioid addiction. Medication maintenance treatment substitutes a milder, medically monitored drug for the opioid of abuse during addiction treatment. This allows the user to wean off of opioid abuse without suffering all the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

One approach is the use of Suboxone as a form of medication maintenance treatment. Suboxone is a combination of two different drugs: buprenorphine and naloxone.

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, meaning that it binds to the same brain receptors as opioids, but produces a less intense effect.  Therefore, people who want to quit abusing opioids can take buprenorphine during substance abuse treatment. As they wean off of the opioid of abuse, buprenorphine will:

  • Provide a less intense “high”
  • Suppress opioid cravings
  • Reduce withdrawal symptoms
  • Protect against overdose
  • Block opioids in the brain so that the user can no longer “get high”

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, meaning that it can push aside opioids in the brain in order to bind to the same receptors more effectively. It is included in Suboxone in order to deter people from abusing the buprenorphine in Suboxone. When taken as directed, in pill form, the naloxone has no effect on the body. If a person tries to abuse suboxone by grinding the pills to snort or inject, the naloxone becomes activated. It will then push aside buprenorphine from receptors in the brain, negating all the beneficial effects. The individual will then feel all the cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting opioid drugs.

The Downside of Suboxone Treatment

As promising as Suboxone treatment can be, there are some drawbacks to this form of medication maintenance therapy for overcoming opioid addiction. Suboxone is a Schedule III class drug, meaning that it carries a moderate to low addiction potential. Most people who use Suboxone will become dependent on it, at least at a low level. And just like any medication, there is always the risk of Suboxone side effects. Common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Constipation
  • Back pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Numb mouth

Bad side effects of Suboxone include:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Problems with coordination
  • Liver problems
  • Allergic reaction
  • Decrease in blood pressure
  • Opioid withdrawal symptoms, such as sweating, shaking, diarrhea, vomiting, and muscle aches

Suboxone symptoms can be scary, but it is not the only treatment option. At Stop Your Addiction, we offer a variety of approaches to overcoming opioid addiction. We can help you find the treatment that feels most comfortable for you so that you are more likely to stick with it and overcome your substance abuse problem. In addition to helping you through the detox process, we offer:

  • Individual and group therapy and counseling
  • Moral reconation therapy
  • Nutritional and fitness planning
  • Acupuncture and massage therapies
  • Education and aftercare to prepare you for life after treatment

If you struggle with overcoming opioid addiction, call our toll-free number today to find the treatment program that is right for you.