Suboxone is a drug commonly used to help treat different types of opioid addiction in adults. It is actually a combination of two different types of drugs; buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a type of opioid medication, often prescribed for pain control, while naloxone is actually a medication prescribed to block the effects of opioids.
If this sounds contradictory to you don’t worry, it’s supposed to. Buprenorphine is in a drug class known as an agonist, while naloxone is in an opposite category known as an antagonist. Together, this drug combination can help an individual who is addicted to opioids cope with symptoms of withdrawal and cravings.
While this combination may sound like a positive drug all the way around, the possibility of ‘too much of a good thing’ does exist with Suboxone. Like any drug, there are potential side effects that can be dangerous, along with addictive qualities after prolonged use.
How Does Suboxone Work?
As mentioned above, Suboxone is a combination of two different types of drugs. Buprenorphine is a partial agonist, meaning that while it does activate some opioid receptors in the brain, it does not activate nearly as many as a typical opioids such as hydrocodone.
Taking an opioid while trying to recover from opioid addiction may sound a bit counterproductive, but there is a method behind it. While buprenorphine is a partial agonist, it is also a partial antagonist meaning that it can also attach to opioid receptors in the brain and block other full agonist opioids from reaching them.
On the opposite side of the ring, naloxone is actually an antagonist that blocks opioid receptors by sticking to them without activating them. Naloxone on its own is a common drug used by emergency medical respondents to reverse potentially lethally overdoses on drugs such as heroin.
With naloxone and buprenorphine working together to block full agonist opioids from being received by opioid receptors, the buprenorphine is still able to produce some amount of opioid effect on the individual. This slight opioid effect helps with opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms without presenting as many of the depressant dangers of full agonist opioids.
Is Suboxone Addictive?
So far we have overviewed many of the positives regarding Suboxone, however there are some negatives that should be addressed. Can drug that was created to help treat addiction become addictive in the long run? The short answer is yes.
While there are many positive outcomes that can come with an addicted individual taking Suboxone, addiction is still a very real possibility with this drug. While the naloxone in Suboxone helps to block some of the opioid receptors through its antagonist qualities, the buprenorphine is still able to attach to some receptors.
As an opioid, buprenorphine can be very addictive. While it may be less addictive than other full agonist opioids, it still holds the same addictive traits that its opioid cousins have. Because of this, it is possible to build a dependence on Suboxone, which can quickly turn into an addiction.
What Are The Side Effects Of Suboxone?
Even when taken short-term and exactly as prescribed, Suboxone comes with its own list of possibly dangerous side effects that can happen to anyone. Before anyone is prescribed Suboxone, the doctor must assess for a history of liver/kidney disease, lung or respiratory illnesses, a history of drug abuse, enlarged prostate or bladder issues, past brain injuries or trauma to the head, and current prescriptions for sedatives such as Xanax.
This comprehensive medical history is not asked in vain, as these underlying diseases and ailments can cause many issues when combined with Suboxone. Some side effects of taking Suboxone can include:
- Increased sweating
- Heart palpitations
- Numbness or pain inside your mouth
- Dizziness and excessive drowsiness
- Nausea relating to constipation, vomiting
- Swelling in hands and feet
- Aggressive migraines or headaches
Even in individuals with no medical history as mentioned above, these side effects can present themselves immediately or after a period of taking the medication. It is always important to check with your doctor if you have any underlying issues in your medical history, or if any of these side effects present themselves after taking Suboxone.
Signs Of Long-Term Suboxone Abuse
As with many drugs, including prescription drugs, the body will eventually build up a tolerance to the drug Suboxone. Because of this, dosages and frequencies should be closely monitored by the prescribing physician. Taking the exact amount and frequency prescribed is the best way to ensure the medication will help with the underlying addiction and not create a new one.
For some individuals, they may choose to combat this tolerance through higher or more frequent doses, along with alternative methods of taking the drug. It has been reported that some individuals abusing Suboxone choose to dissolve it into water and inject it, crush it into a fine powder and snort it, or chew it before swallowing for a quicker effect.
All of these methods of taking Suboxone are considered to be abusing the drug, which can be indicative of long-term use. Other signs and symptoms of long-term Suboxone abuse include:
- Taking Suboxone outside of prescribed directions
- Getting Suboxone prescriptions from multiple physicians
- Craving Suboxone when not taking it
- Mixing Suboxone with other drugs to magnify its effects
- Symptoms of withdrawal when not taking Suboxone
Get Help Today
As innocent as starting to take Suboxone can be, it has the potential to hold devastating and long-term side effects. If you or a loved one believes Suboxone is no longer being utilized for the use it was prescribed, it it important to seek professional help today.
Contact one of our addiction specialists to get started on the road to recovery. No one should have to battle addiction alone, get help today.