Opioid abuse has reached epic levels in the United States and abroad, but the U.S., in particular, is experiencing a crisis on par with diseases that ravaged through in historic times. It can be said with confidence that it continues to worsen each day, and nearly 130 people succumb to overdose deaths as a result of opioids daily.
The misuse of heroin, prescription painkillers, and synthetic opioids like fentanyl all contribute to the problem. In 2017, more than 47,000 Americans in total died, while another 1.7 million people reported a substance use disorder relating to opioids.
The sheer volume of American’s becoming addicted to painkillers led the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue new guidelines to physicians about their prescribing practices.
Many advocates for painkillers, however, blame this on the rise in heroin and fentanyl use. Those addicted to painkillers were squeezed out from getting pills, and they soon made the transition to illicit street drugs. With opioid drugs being notoriously difficult to stop, medicines such as Suboxone were created to help reduce cravings and move into a lifestyle away from opioids.
Suboxone has been a medication that separates those with substance use disorders relating to opioids between life and death. Suboxone sales in 2012 reached a staggering $1.55 billion in the U.S. alone and have surpassed Adderall and Viagra.
The success is a direct link to the current state of affairs, and federal officials embrace suboxone for its ability to assist those quitting opioids. A substitute to methadone, which is useful but comes with more side effects, is a game changer for those wanting to end their dependence on opiates.
What Is Suboxone?
Suboxone is a medication used to treat opioid addiction, and it works by blocking withdrawal symptoms and providing a reduction in cravings. Users of suboxone can use the drug as a sublingual strop or a tablet that can be placed under the tongue. By using the medication in this fashion, it allows for a faster-acting reduction in cravings.
Suboxone was created when two medications, buprenorphine, and naloxone, were combined to exploit the best properties of each drug. Suboxone is a partial opioid agonist, which means that buprenorphine will produce a milder effect when working on opioid receptors. Opioids that possess the highest addiction potential are full agonists, for reference, and include heroin, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and methadone.The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) submitted a report that buprenorphine has the potential to:
- Reduce the effects of physical dependence on opioids, such as withdrawal symptoms or cravings
- Lower the potential for misuse
- Improve safety in the event of an overdose
What Are The Signs Of Suboxone Addiction?
While Suboxone has been proven to be an effective means of treating opioid addiction, unfortunately, it is still an opiate drug, which means it carries the potential of becoming habit-forming. Even though it is designed to stop cravings, there is a chance that someone can develop a physical dependence on Suboxone, which can lead to the potential for abuse.
In a weird twist, those without an opioid use disorder (OUD) are more likely to abuse the medicine. The reasons they provide is to experience euphoria, relieve pain, or invoke feelings of calmness. Those who do have an OUD use Suboxone to treat their cravings.
If you or someone you love is abusing Suboxone, these signs may become apparent, such as:
- Mixing crushed tablets with water to inject directly into the bloodstream
- Crushing tablets to snort the powder
- Chewing the medication and swallowing it
- Taking higher doses than prescribed
Other outward signs of physical Suboxone abuse include:
- Slurred speech
- Watery eyes
- Memory impairment issues
One of the most common signs that someone is abusing Suboxone is that they have developed a tolerance, and physical or psychological changes begin to emerge after abrupt cessation. The withdrawal starts to occur as the brain and body acclimate to smaller amounts of Suboxone that they grew accustomed to.
How To Treat Suboxone Addiction
Going into treatment is a tough decision to make, but it will be the best decision someone can make to treat Suboxone addiction. Addiction treatment must be tailored to the individual for it to be successful, and there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all treatment. It can be adjusted throughout the process.
Medical detox is the first step in the continuum of care, and the client will stay in this intensive portion of treatment for a period of three to seven days. The specialists will work with the client to remove all drugs and remaining traces of drugs from their body. There will be a tapering schedule put in place to ensure it is done slowly and reduce discomfort.
Once you have completed this process, you will move to either residential or outpatient treatment. The medical still will determine the severity of the OUD and figure where your next choice is. One can mean living in a treatment center for up to 90 days while engaging in therapies dedicated to changing your life, whereas an outpatient facility will offer therapy while allowing the client to go home once they finish.
Is Suboxone Use Dangerous?
Suboxone was designed to make it difficult to overdose while using. Unfortunately, in high doses, an overdose can still occur. It is more likely to happen when someone uses the drug in combination with benzodiazepines or alcohol. Combining these two depressants can cause breathing rates to decrease and cause respiratory distress. Coma and death can be the outcome when using the drugs in conjunction with Suboxone. You must seek immediate medical care if you think you or a loved one is experiencing any of the below side effects:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Slowed breathing
- Sluggish reflexes
- Lack of coordination
- Slurred speech
- Intermittent loss of consciousness
- Problems with vision
Call 911 immediately if you suspect a Suboxone overdose.