What are the most serious side effects of Suboxone?
Probably, the worst side effects that are associated with buprenorphine medications, including Suboxone, are the withdrawal symptoms that can occur if you take it too soon. This is known as precipitated withdrawal.
The downside of starting Suboxone treatment.
When buprenorphine is used for addiction treatment, there is a waiting period from the time that you stop taking your opioid of choice until you can start Suboxone. This wait can last anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, and in some cases, longer. The reason for this wait is to allow enough of the opioid to leave your system. If you have too much opioid remaining, the blocking effect of buprenorphine causes an onset of opioid withdrawal symptoms which can include runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, achy muscles, yawning, anxiousness, and insomnia.
How does this compare to methadone?
Interestingly, methadone does not have a waiting period issue. This is one of the great benefits of methadone treatment for opioid addiction compared to Suboxone. However, methadone is a more dangerous drug, hence the need for daily clinic visits for daily dosing. If you are concerned that you cannot make it through any period of waiting to start your medication-assisted treatment for opiate addiction, you may want to consider starting with a methadone clinic.
Are there long-term effects of taking buprenorphine?
This is a good question. Buprenorphine is both a partial opioid agonist and an opioid antagonist. This means that the drug both blocks the opioid receptor and partially activates it. The partial activation of the receptor puts it in the category of being an opioid itself. Buprenorphine has been around for decades. It has been in use for the treatment of opioid use disorder for nearly twenty years. While it is possible for patients to develop sensitivity to any medication over time, generally, buprenorphine is considered to be safe for long-term use.
Is taking Suboxone as a sublingual film or tablet the best way to take it?
Until recently, for treating opioid dependence, sublingual use was the only option. Now, we have injectable, long-term treatment options becoming available. Sublocade is a monthly buprenorphine injection that is currently available. Brixadi is another injectable buprenorphine that will be out soon. For an even longer-acting implant form, there is Probuphine.
Does the blocker in Suboxone, naloxone, cause side effects?
While it is true that some naloxone is absorbed with the normal use of Suboxone, it is a very small amount and not likely to cause any side effects. Still, side effects from the naloxone component are possible in rare cases and should be considered. Generally, naloxone is a very safe drug and is only present in Suboxone as an abuse-deterrent. However, if a patient does abuse Suboxone, the naloxone will cause significant precipitated withdrawal symptoms.
What about stomach pain and constipation from Suboxone?
We all have opioid receptors throughout our bodies. We mostly think of these receptors as being in the central nervous system where opioids can act to reduce pain and cause euphoria. However, our intestines are also filled with opioid receptors. When opioids work directly on our gastrointestinal system, they tend to cause constipation and sometimes stomach pain. Fortunately, this is not as much of a problem when it comes to buprenorphine compared to other opioids. Still, some patients do get constipation from Suboxone.
Is the Suboxone film habit forming? Does buprenorphine have abuse potential?
When starting Suboxone treatment, patients and their families are concerned that they are trading one addiction for another. How can it be right to use an opioid to treat opioid addiction? It turns out that this is an overly simplistic view of how buprenorphine works. Buprenorphine is a unique kind of opioid that very strongly blocks the opioid receptor. It does not work like other opioid drugs. While there is a certain amount of concern about abuse potential and Suboxone being habit-forming, this should not be a major concern in medication-assisted treatment of opioid dependence. Patients who are treated with buprenorphine usually function very well in their daily lives. Many find great success in being able to return to doing the work they love and being able to care for their families.
What kind of healthcare provider can prescribe Suboxone and buprenorphine?
Generally, the best kind of doctor to see about medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with Suboxone is a doctor who is credentialed to provide treatment and also one who has dedicated their entire practice to the treatment of substance use disorder with MAT. You will find that MAT provided by a small clinic can have a far higher success rate than even the most elegant and prestigious luxury rehab center.