The opioid epidemic swept the United States in the 1990s, with prescribed opioid medicines increasing drastically. Then in 2010, opiate variants became prevalent on the streets, with heroin overdose deaths proliferating. An addiction to any substance can be a tragic matter for everyone involved — users and their loved ones — but few drugs are as catastrophic to one’s life as opioids. Opioids are a major problem in the United States; so much so that in 2019, an estimated 10.1 million people, ages 12 or older, misused opioids or opiates (naturally found opioid substances, i.e. heroin). Of that 10.1 million, 745,000 used heroin, and 9.7 million misused prescription opioids. Given these numbers, it is essential that we have ways to help those struggling with the disease of addiction.
So far, the best way to combat serious addictions is with some form of therapy in conjunction with medication-assisted treatment (MAT). MAT is a treatment used for substance abuse problems, such as addiction to drugs — like heroin and opiates — alcohol, and nicotine. Medication-assisted treatment involves taking pharmacological medications to curb the withdrawal process. Typically, MAT takes place as a specialized treatment to monitor patients and aid recovery. However, it is also common for MAT to be used in primary care practices, meaning it doesn’t have to be done at a specialty facility. An American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) study discovered that medication-assisted treatment is widely underutilized, perhaps because of misconceptions about how the treatment works, its benefits, and how to get started.
What is Suboxone?
Suboxone is perhaps one of the most popular medications to assist with quitting opioids. It is a combination of the two drugs, buprenorphine and naloxone, which act to mimic the effects of opiates, making the brain and body crave real opiates significantly less. This helps minimize withdrawal cravings and other withdrawal symptoms that one is likely to encounter when quitting opiates.
Suboxone is part of the so-called “opioid antagonists” family of medication-assisted treatment medicines. These types of medicines block opioid receptors in the brain, meaning the effects of “opioid agonists” (opiate-like substances that inversely attach to and fully activate opioid receptors) are minimized significantly.
Suboxone is only recommended for treating addictions to the following:
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
- Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet)
Suboxone Treatment Process
If you are someone who wants to get clean from opioid use but struggles against withdrawal cravings, Suboxone is likely a feasible option for you.
Suboxone was designed to be easy for patients to ingest and therefore comes in two forms: a tablet and sublingual film, both of which conveniently dissolve in the mouth. When using the sublingual film, be sure to drink water beforehand to ease the dissolving. It is important to wait 12-24 hours after last using opiates or opioids, to avoid worsening withdrawal symptoms.
Suboxone typically blocks opioid receptors for 24 to 72 hours, reaching peak effect after 40 to 120 minutes. These results, of course, depend on several factors including height/weight, tolerance, etc. Suboxone is significantly less strong and less habit-forming than opioids’ MAT predecessor, methadone. Therefore, patients usually need to take Suboxone for a longer time than other MAT medicines. Typically, to properly promote opioid recovery, one should take Suboxone for at least up to 6 months. Some get away with just a few months, while others stay on for up to a year. Using this medicine for short periods of time, such as one month, often leads to relapsing and returning to substance abuse.
We Can Help You Overcome
If you or a loved one currently struggles with opioid use, it is crucial for you to reach out to a professional. Opioid addiction is a serious matter with dire consequences for addicts and those around them. However, there is always hope. Contact us to discuss how we can help you, and whether Suboxone is a recommended option for you.