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Suboxone is a highly coveted medication containing the partial opioid agonist buprenorphine used to treat opioid use disorders. It’s typically used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which uses opioid medications to help replace other harmful opioids like heroin in those who have become chemically dependent. Suboxone helps people go through the process of addiction treatment without going through uncomfortable drug cravings or withdrawal symptoms.
In addition to buprenorphine, suboxone contains naloxone, which is an opioid antagonist acting as a fail-safe against abuse. Naloxone works by binding to opioid receptors without activating them and stopping other opioids.
By itself, it can stop and reverse an opioid overdose. As a partial opioid agonist, buprenorphine will partially activate opioid receptors and allow it to stave off opioid cravings without causing intoxication. Unlike other opioids, it has what is known as an effect ceiling, which essentially means it will not increase in potency with higher doses. Instead, the effects will stop escalating after a specific dose size.
Since suboxone contains a weak opioid and an opioid antagonist, it has a much lower abuse potential than other opioid drugs. It is important, however, to understand the potential risks of the medication.
Suboxone is routinely used in MAT for those with opioid dependencies, and it’s necessary to note that individuals who use the medication will continue to be dependent on opioids. If you stop using Suboxone, you will experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. It’s challenging to abuse Suboxone because it’s carefully regulated, but those in MAT will receive doses each day from their treatment professional, which is placed under their tongue.
This particular method of administration allows the buprenorphine to enter into your bloodstream. To achieve intoxication effects from the drug, you’d need multiple doses. If you take multiple doses of Suboxone, you could experience euphoria, sedation, itching, and constipation.
A single dose of buprenorphine may be more intense when it is injected or snorted. Unfortunately, taking Suboxone in this way will activate naloxone – this will kick the buprenorphine out of your system and cause immediate withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms include:
If you were using Suboxone as part of a MAT program, becoming free of opioid dependency requires a tapering period.
Tapering usually begins once you’ve finished other forms of addiction treatment.
If you had high-level medical needs that require immediate treatment or monitoring during the taper, you should go through an inpatient program.
If you can live at home and still need clinical support, you will likely go through an outpatient program.
Although the drug is designed to be safe, you must keep in mind that it is still a prescription opioid and must be used carefully. Using the medicine with sleeping pills, alcohol, or other depressants may be fatal. When you combine depressant drugs, it can lead to an overdose that causes coma, respiratory depression, or death.