Suboxone is a medication that is given to individuals who are suffering from an opiate addiction. The drug is meant for those who were abusing and/or addicted to opiates like: heroin, morphine, OxyContin, Hydrocodone, codeine, and fentanyl among others. The drug was made available to the public after it was approved in 2002. Almost immediately after it was approved signs of its danger began to surface. The drug contains a synthetic opiate and a second drug that is meant to counteract the effects of the opiate. The two main chemicals in methadone are buprenorphine and Naloxone. The drug is available in pill form or in a small film that is taken orally. The drug is available in monthly supplies by a doctor, which is different from the methadone single dose provided at a methadone clinic.

How Suboxone Works

Suboxone is given to those who suffer from an opiate addiction. These individuals are ready to take control of their lives through rehabilitation, but cannot do so without the assistance of medications. This is often the case for opiate addicts because opiates are such a powerful drug. Opiates attack the pleasure centers of the brain in such a dramatic way that they can forever change the chemical makeup of the brain. The euphoria felt from abusing opiates creates a desire to relive that experience that can turn a longtime friend or loved one into a complete stranger, which is why medically assisted treatment is often required. Suboxone works by delivering two drugs at once. Buprenorphine is a synthetic opiate, which reduces the effects of opiate withdrawal. Suboxone does not create the same euphoric feeling that other opiates do because it also contains Naloxone. This second drug counteracts the synthetic opiates effects by reducing the euphoria. Naloxone blocks the euphoric effects and by doing so it ends the cycle of crash and binge. The drug reduces the painful effects of opiate withdrawal without the intense sensations of the opiate high.

Effects of Suboxone

Like other opiates, Suboxone creates suppressed respiratory function. This is the way that all opiates cause overdose fatalities. The drug makes it difficult for individuals to operate heavy machinery. Common side effects of Suboxone use include: sleeping problems, cold or flu symptoms, and nausea. Suboxone has been reported to cause reduced sex drive, hair loss, and abnormalities with how the body deals with emotions and stress. Physicians have reported that low doses of Suboxone can block a large percentage of individual’s emotions, while a higher dose can make them completely numb.

Suboxone is meant as a weaning treatment for opiate abuse. It is given to an opiate addict as a substitute for opiates, which is given in smaller doses over a period of time. This reduces the stress and discomfort of opiate withdrawal, while tapering them off of drugs completely. The main goal in any drug treatment program is to teach an addict to live life drug free. Unfortunately, many individuals are maintained on Suboxone for long periods of time. Tapering off of Suboxone has been reported to be tough, which leads to long term use. This treatment, without other behavioral therapy, often causes the patient considerable discomfort. The effects of withdrawal can be on delay, which will force the recovering addict to handle the withdrawal on their own. These cases often lead to relapse, which is incredibly dangerous for opiate addicts.

Fatal Effects of Suboxone

Individuals who are prescribed Suboxone have been abusing opiates for a considerable amount of time. Their bodies have developed a tolerance for those drugs, which is why they can tolerate Suboxone. There have been several cases of child injury and fatality for mistakenly taking Suboxone because their bodies were not acclimated to the drug. Unborn and newborn children are at risk of opiate addiction and withdrawal when they are exposed. Suboxone can pass to an unborn child if the mother is consuming the drug. Newborns are also exposed through the mother’s breast milk.

Suboxone, like other opiates, suppresses the respiratory system. If the drug is taken in higher doses than prescribed it can be fatal. If the drug is taken while consuming alcohol it can be fatal. Benzodiazepines and alcohol can easily suppress breathing to the point of death. Abusing opiates while on Suboxone can also cause fatal overdose. Suboxone is meant to block the effects of withdrawal symptoms; it does not stop the craving for opiate highs.

Signs of Suboxone Abuse

Individuals who are abusing Suboxone may display:

-Nausea
-Vomiting
-Muscle pain and cramps
-Watery eyes
-Diarrhea
-Fever
-Insomnia
-Sweating
-Depression
-Drowsiness
-Slurred Speech
-Increased blood pressure
-Poor memory
-Small pupils
-Apathetic Mood

Getting Treatment

Opiate addiction is a very serious problem. Opiate abuse and addiction have been on the rise in the United States for over a decade. It is a silent epidemic, which affects nearly every community in the country. Individuals suffering from this addiction should seek professional help as soon as possible. The rise in opiate related overdoses should push those abusing the drug towards treatment. Since the drug is so powerful most opiate addicts require the help of medically assisted treatment to overcome their addiction. If this treatment can successfully push the addict to a drug free life, then it should be used. The drug treatment should include therapy along with the tapering system of Suboxone treatment. Treatment that does not include medications is still considered the best treatment for any addiction. This treatment might be more painful and difficult, but is the best. Behavioral therapy works the best at treating the individual and should include dual-diagnosis treatment as well.