According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), drug overdoses have claimed the lives of more 700,000 people between 1999 and 2017. Adding to that, more than 68 percent of all overdose deaths were the result of opioid abuse. The 2017 study conducted by the CDC also shows a significant uptick in overdose deaths related to prescription and street-level opioids, increasing by as much as six times since 1999. Lastly, and perhaps most alarming, the study revealed that more than 130 Americans die every day as a result of an opioid overdose.
Statistical data aside, overcoming any form of addiction is challenging; however, it can be especially difficult for those who are addicted to opioids. For many people, the withdrawals associated with quitting are so severe that they would rather continue using instead of seeking treatment. Fortunately, medications like Suboxone, which are a part of most medically-assisted detox programs can soothe many of the symptoms commonly associated with coming off of opioids. In saying that, Suboxone is as effective as it is addictive, meaning it is possible that some people may find themselves replacing one addiction with another. In this article, we will take a closer look at Suboxone and what makes it the treatment of choice when it comes to helping individuals overcome addiction.
What Is Suboxone?
For those who may not be familiar with Suboxone, it is a combination medication comprised of buprenorphine and naloxone, which work collectively to help users break free of their addiction. To further put this into context, buprenorphine is classified as a partial opioid agonist, meaning it triggers an opiate response in the brain. However, the response is mild compared to that of a “full” opiate agonist. The second active ingredient, naloxone, acts as an opioid antagonist and works by shutting off the opiate receptors in the brain.
All in all, naloxone is designed to help minimize the likelihood of becoming addicted to Suboxone. However, some individuals still become addicted as a result of abusing or misusing the medication. Of course, this doesn’t devalue the medication in the eyes of physicians and clinicians who support the use of Suboxone as part of a comprehensive addiction recovery treatment. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, individuals who use Suboxone in conjunction with detox, therapy, and other treatments are more likely to stay clean compared to those who quit cold turkey.
Is Suboxone Safe?
When taken as prescribed, Suboxone is relatively safe; however, studies show that many people consume higher than recommended doses of the medication, which, in turn, increases their risk of not only addiction but also overdose. To further illustrate this point, CESAR (Center for Substance Abuse Research) reports that retail sales of Suboxone have been on the rise since 2006; along with this increase in sales, there has also been an uptick in the number of buprenorphine-related deaths, particularly in Florida where overdose deaths more than doubled since 2011.
Several studies have shown that these deaths are the result of people using the drug to get high as opposed to using it for its intended purpose, overcoming opioid addiction. All in all, Suboxone has an excellent track record when it comes to efficacy, but it is critical that patients take the medication as directed. Similarly, patients are urged to follow their physician’s recommendations while tapering down from the medication.
Symptoms And Signs Of Suboxone Abuse
Suboxone addiction or abuse is often denoted by changes in behavior that correspond with misuse or abuse of the medication, which may include a sudden preoccupation with obtaining or using the medication. Additional tell-tale signs of abuse or addiction may include
Stealing or forging prescriptions
Becoming suddenly secretive
Lack of focus
Consuming more pills than prescribed
Obtaining multiple prescriptions from several doctors
How Does Suboxone Abuse Start?
For many people, Suboxone abuse begins while they’re taking the medication to combat the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting certain opioids as the drug is seldom the first choice for those seeking to get high. It is also important to note that Suboxone is not always obtained via prescription, which can make matters even worse since illegally sourced prescription medications are more likely to be taken with other substances like alcohol, for example. According to an article published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, a peer-reviewed scientific journal covering biomedical and psychosocial approaches to addiction, combining Suboxone with benzodiazepines or alcohol can have a profound impact on one’s body, often resulting in a slowed heartbeat or respiratory problems. Also, combining these substances can trigger anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders.
What Are The Long-term Effects Of Addiction?
Classified as an opioid, Suboxone has been shown to cause many of the same problems often associated with prescription and street-level-based opiates including
Brain damage caused by hypoxia
Heart or circulatory system damage
Permanent damage to the respiratory system
It is worth noting that long-term abuse of Suboxone or any opiate can lead to increased tolerance, meaning larger quantities of the drug must be taken to derive the same psychoactive effects previously achieved with smaller doses. In doing so, however, the risk of overdosing increases significantly, especially if an individual begins taking the drug after abstaining for a long time.
Seeking Help For Suboxone Addiction
In seeking help for Suboxone addiction, it is a good idea to work with a drug treatment facility that offers medically-assisted detox as the withdrawal symptoms can be extremely challenging without the use of pain relievers, not to mention medication to help with nausea and fluid loss. If you ready to take that first step towards overcoming your addictions, consider scheduling an appointment with one of our friendly counselors today