It’s truly a tragedy to develop a dependency on medication that’s supposed to help you overcome substance addiction. This is often the case with Suboxone. Designed to help people with opioid addiction, if it’s not properly administered in tandem with a whole-person continuum of care plan, it can result in a completely different level of addiction.
What Is Suboxone?
People who develop substance use disorder through the use of fentanyl, heroin, oxycodone, and other opiates are sometimes advised to enter medication-assisted treatment programs to reduce their dependency. Suboxone is an opiate also known as the generic name buprenorphine-naloxone, and additional brand names Bunavail and Zubsolv. It’s specifically used to treat opioid dependence by lessening withdrawal symptoms during detoxification.
Suboxone is prescribed and monitored by a physician and available as an oral film dissolved in the mouth or as a tablet. A similar drug, methadone, is often used for both chronic pain and to manage opiate withdrawal symptoms and administered by clinics specializing in opioid treatment programs.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) people who receive Suboxone as part of their opioid use disorder treatment start taking the drug within 12–24 hours of the detoxification process. It’s designed to help:
- Reduce the effects of physical dependency to opioids, including withdrawal symptoms and cravings
- Lower the potential for misuse
- Help prevent overdose
When taken as prescribed, SAMHSA notes that Suboxone is safe and effective. Unfortunately, medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, has a few pitfalls.
Problems With MAT Programs and Suboxone
In addiction treatment, it’s not uncommon to use medication to ease the harmful physical and mental impact of substance and alcohol abuse. The theory is when someone isn’t suffering withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and other side effects from the primary drug, they’ll have an easier time adjusting to sobriety.
This might be the case for some people. However, others with substance use disorder who only receive MAT and no other essential components of treatment don’t:
- Get to the center of why their addiction occurred.
- Develop skills to address and resolve those issues.
- Use support techniques, such as Narcotics Anonymous and continuing care community groups, to maintain sobriety.
Although Suboxone is prescribed by a physician in a medical setting, it’s not often this approach is reinforced by all other aspects of whole-person addiction treatment you might find in a more structured inpatient rehabilitation facility and its related outpatient programs. Consequently, the lack of essential behavior modification and resolution of inherent causes for addiction in general often sets someone up for failure with MAT and all too often, an individual simply switches from one substance addiction to another.
Another reason why Suboxone MAT programs can be controversial is because since each person’s condition is different, some methods of standalone treatment “can be indefinite,” according to SAMHSA. The agency recommends that individuals prevent possible relapse by engaging in ongoing treatment—with or without MAT.
Side Effects of Suboxone
If you or someone you love is considering Suboxone as a transition during addiction treatment, make sure to discuss with your healthcare professional the potential for both moderate and serious side effects. Some of these might mimic opiate withdrawal, so it’s critical to have consistent monitoring. Symptoms include:
- Attention difficulties
- Blurred vision or dilated pupils
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Dry mouth
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle aches and cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Inability to sleep
- Adrenal insufficiency
- Respiratory distress
- Tooth decay
SAMHSA cautions individuals against taking Suboxone if you’re pregnant or plan to be, have liver-related health issues, and are mixing the medication with alcohol or any other illegal drug. It’s also imperative not to use sedatives or tranquilizers while on Suboxone, which may result in overdose or death.
Why Willingway Offers Medically Managed Detoxification
Addiction inpatient rehabilitation facilities in Georgia need to be immediately responsive to the ongoing opioid crisis in our state. That’s why detoxification is the most intensive level of care that Willingway provides. Guided by our ASAM-certified medical director, our medical team is highly regarded for our expertise in treating high-level methadone and Suboxone addiction.
Our goal is to ensure clients feel as comfortable as possible during withdrawal so as to not become discouraged—and experience the start of healing recovery with whole-person attention and a continuum of care plan specifically designed to address each person’s individual needs. You and your family deserve this type of dedicated treatment. Talk with a member of our admissions team to learn how we can help you safely and effectively.