What is Suboxone used for?

What is a Suboxone doctor and why do they prescribe Suboxone to their patients?

Simply, Suboxone helps people to quit dangerous opiates and opioids. The active ingredient in Suboxone is buprenorphine. Buprenorphine can help people to quit heroin or fentanyl. Additionally, it can help people to quit other forms of opioid addiction, including when the drug of choice is a prescription opioid. Buprenorphine can help people to quit oxycodone, morphine, dilaudid and other similar drugs. Suboxone doctors prescribe medications such as the Suboxone film and Subutex to help an opiate-addicted patient go from being sick and poorly functional to feeling normal and functioning well in their daily activities. Buprenorphine can help to prevent withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. And, all of the serious side effects of the previously used drug will go away, such as mental cloudiness.

Is Suboxone treatment used for any other reason besides treating opioid addiction?

Buprenorphine does work well for chronic pain in some cases. It can help with chronic neck or back pain. Some patients find that it helps significantly with fibromyalgia pain. Others have reported significant improvement in restless leg syndrome symptoms. Yet, the primary use is to provide medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction.

What are the advantages of using Suboxone for addiction treatment?

When starting treatment for opioid addiction, it is important to inform the patient of alternatives for treatment. There is methadone maintenance, naltrexone and also the option of not using these long-term medications. Not using medication to treat opioid dependence is referred to as abstinence-based therapy. Buprenorphine is safer than methadone. Because of this, there are more doctors who are qualified to prescribe buprenorphine compared to methadone clinics. And, patients can get up to a month of medication at a time to take home. Methadone must be dispensed on a daily basis at a specialized clinic. This being said, methadone is still preferred for some patients. Naloxone is another medication option. The problem with naloxone is that the patient must first be clean for an extended period of time to start taking it. This means getting through the worst stage of the withdrawal syndrome before being able to start treatment. Because of this, naltrexone is not a popular option. Abstinence-based treatment is preferred by many treatment programs, but it has a very low rate of success in helping patients to stay clean and avoid relapse. Hence, buprenorphine has many advantages over the alternatives.

Is Suboxone addiction a problem?

Suboxone, or buprenorphine and naloxone, is a controlled drug believed to have abuse potential. However, in the real world, there is very little actual Suboxone abuse. This is because it most often does not produce any kind of “high” in opioid dependent people. In fact, it helps them to feel normal, as if they never had an opioid addiction problem. While the patient is taking buprenorphine/naloxone, if they stop taking it, they will get sick with withdrawal symptoms again within a day or two. Many people interpret this to mean that the patient is addicted to their Suboxone treatment. Yet, this is not Suboxone addiction, this is physical dependence on treatment medication. This is an important distinction. When a patient is ready at some point to complete Suboxone treatment, they should work closely with their doctor to gradually reduce the dosage over time.

Are side effects a big problem with buprenorphine?

While it is possible to have an allergic reaction to any drug and there are certainly common side effects of buprenorphine, side effects tend not to be a problem for most patients. However, if you are prescribed buprenorphine and naloxone and you have side effects, it is important to contact your doctor immediately.

What effect does buprenorphine have on opioid receptors?

While most opioid and opiate drugs are known to function in an opioid agonist fashion, primarily affecting the mu-opioid receptors, buprenorphine is a little different. It functions partially as an opioid agonist, but unlike other opioids, it is also a long-acting blocker of the receptors. This unique mechanism is what makes buprenorphine effective in treating opioid dependence and also what makes it relatively safe. Other opioids are potentially highly habit-forming. Buprenorphine is not considered to have as high of an abuse potential. And, it is far less likely to cause breathing problems compared to other opioids.

What other buprenorphine/naloxone drugs exist for helping a patient to quit an opioid.

If you are taking an opioid and you want to quit taking it, you do have other options for brand name buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual medications. For example, ZubSolv is an excellent alternative. While the ingredients are the same, it is very fast dissolving and the taste is considered to be more pleasant than Suboxone. You may want to ask your Suboxone doctor about ZubSolv. Also, Orexo, the company that makes ZubSolv, currently offers a free voucher for up to 30 free tablets with a prescription.

Is it possible for the naloxone in a buprenorphine/naloxone medication to cause withdrawal symptoms?

Typically, the naloxone component does not do anything. Yet, if a person attempts to inject their treatment medication into a vein, the naloxone will certainly cause withdrawal symptoms. This acts as a deterrent. As unlikely as it sounds, there are people who have become very adept at turning oral medications into injectables and then injecting them into a vein. This is a bad habit that needs to be overcome. So, naloxone as an ingredient combined with buprenorphine will hopefully deter the drug abuser from considering injecting the medication.

In conclusion, Suboxone is for saving lives.

We are in  the midst of an opioid crisis. Buprenorphine may be one of the best tools we have to save lives. There are also many other things we can do to help prevent overdoses on street opiates. Narcan is brand name of an overdose reversal drug. It needs to be made more available. Now is the time to have conversations about what we can all do to end this opioid epidemic and save lives by preventing overdose and other consequences of opioid and opiate abuse.

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