People recovering from opioid addiction face some unique challenges. Many start using opioids to treat pain, so that pain must be addressed for detoxification and recovery to be successful. About half of patients who complete detox do not experience ongoing symptoms or cravings. However, in our experience. about half of our patients do experience ongoing cravings that if not addressed often lead to relapse. For these patients, ongoing treatment with Suboxone usually helps to alleviate those cravings. In this manner, over a few months you can slowly taper the Suboxone dose to achieve a recovery that is long-lasting and both drug and craving-free.
Opioids are generally prescribed to treat pain and include such prescription medications as oxycodone and hydrocodone. Opioid addiction can occur because over time your body builds tolerance, meaning you need higher and higher doses to experience the same effect. Many people also become physically dependent on the drug, which means you need the drug to simply feel normal and experience withdrawal symptoms and cravings when you cease it use. Often, due to the inability to get legally prescribed high-dose opioids, prescription opioid users eventually switch to heroin use, an even more dangerous drug.
If detox is difficult due to the presence of chronic pain or persistent cravings, medications such as Suboxone can be of enormous help, allowing you to focus on your recovery and taper Suboxone when you are ready
Suboxone is a combination of two medications: buprenorphine and naloxone. Suboxone is a sublingual film or pill that you place under your tongue or inside your cheek to be absorbed.
One of the medications in Suboxone, buprenorphine, is a partial opioid agonist. It provides just enough stimulation of the brain’s opioid receptors to combat withdrawal and cravings, without giving you the “high” that can lead you right back to drug use.
Naloxone, the other medication in Suboxone, is an opioid antagonist. This means that it blocks opioid agonists from reaching the brain. If you have opioids in your body (e.g. oxycontin) and you take Suboxone, you may experience withdrawal. However, when Suboxone use is carefully supervised and monitored by a medical professional it can be a real lifesaver, allowing you to resume your life responsibilities quickly and with little or no discomfort
Side Effects and Caution When Using Suboxone
As with any medication, Suboxone may have side effects. It is vital that you take Suboxone exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Since Suboxone does contain an opioid, there is the potential to become dependent. This, however, is different from addiction, and can be addressed by informing your doctor of any symptoms or cravings that you are experiencing so he/she can make appropriate dosage adjustments.
Before you begin taking Suboxone, make certain that your doctor is aware of any and all medications you’re taking, including vitamins and supplements. Once you begin Suboxone, be cautious when taking any medications that might make you sleepy, including sleeping pills, tranquilizers, and some antidepressants. It is also important to avoid alcohol when taking Suboxone. Be completely candid with your physician and ask questions so that you feel informed and confident about your treatment
As Suboxone contains an opioid, it’s important to store it safely and out of the reach of children or pets. If you have any unused Suboxone after completing treatment, talk to your pharmacy or doctor about disposing of it safely.
When to Stop Taking Suboxone
At HomeDetoxNY, your treatment is completely individualized and tailored to your needs. Some patients take Suboxone for a few weeks or months while others may require longer treatment to combat cravings or treat chronic pain.
Dr. Seitz will monitor your progress carefully and together you will decide when it is time to start slowly tapering the drug. With Suboxone, it is important not to cease taking it suddenly as this can result in uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Instead, your doctor will assist you in taking smaller doses over time, allowing your body to adjust so withdrawal symptoms are kept to a minimum.
Although it may seem counter -intuitive to use a medication containing an opioid (albeit one designed specifically for opioid detoxification) to overcome an opioid addiction, its use helps to heal the brain and prepares you for long-term sobriety, allowing you to get the treatment you need without experiencing intense cravings. You can focus on rebuilding your life, treating physical and mental health issues and finding new non-pharmacologic coping strategies. In the same way that a crutch can help temporarily when you break a bone, Suboxone can help you overcome your addiction and make a fresh start