Futures Recovery Healthcare

Suboxone Abuse

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Widely popular for its use in treating heroin and other opioid addictions, Suboxone has taken on a life of its own, with many patients developing a dependency on the more controlled – and supposedly safer – high offered by Suboxone. The reality is that using Suboxone as a crutch brings with it a number of health problems, and the risks of Suboxone addiction are very real.

What Is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a mixture of buprenorphine and naloxone. It is prescribed for people who are addicted to legal opioids (in the form of prescription medication, like morphine and OxyContin) and illegal opioids (like heroin). Suboxone leapt into prominence as patients and doctors around the country looked for a way to deal with the epidemic of opioid abuse. According to the New York Times, at one point, Suboxone was even more popular than Viagra and Adderall, generating sales of $1.55 billion in the United States.

Recreational Suboxone Misuse

The fact that buprenorphine can result in the same effects as opioids makes it one of the most abused pharmaceuticals in the world. According to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) report, in 2010 buprenorphine was responsible for 30,135 emergency room visits, and over half of those visits were because of nonmedical (recreational) use.

Addiction has many risks beyond behavioral effects. Spending money to procure multiple prescriptions or illicitly purchase Suboxone may cut into other financial responsibilities and lower the patient’s quality of life. However, if they persist with getting more Suboxone despite this, then their Suboxone addiction will run them (and potentially their family) into the ground. Taking more Suboxone than is medically recommended still carries a number of risks to the patient’s body, such as:

  • Sleep disorders
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Memory problems
  • Headaches
  • Slurred speech

Furthermore, once a patient starts taking Suboxone beyond their prescription levels, they build up a tolerance to the drug.

Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms

Another risk of addiction is that it causes withdrawal symptoms. If a patient experiences withdrawal symptoms after they don’t use Suboxone for a short period of time, it is a clear sign that their use has gone too far. They may feel withdrawal symptoms similar to those associated with other opioids, such as:

  • Completely drained of energy and motivation
  • Muscle cramps and pain
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety and agitation

Suboxone Overdose

In a worst-case scenario of addiction, a patient can overdose on Suboxone, which happens when the brain is no longer able to process the buprenorphine and naloxone. If this occurs, the user will experience:

  • Low blood pressure and heart rate
  • Circulatory problems
  • Blurry vision
  • Respiratory failure
  • Coma
  • Cardiac arrest

If the Suboxone is being used in conjunction with other drugs, or alcohol, death is a possibility.

Treating a Suboxone Addiction

There are two components to treating a Suboxone addiction. The first is detoxification. To be done right, the patient should be checked into a rehab center, where detox can be overseen by doctors and clinic staff. As part of the intake and assessment process of checking in, clinic staff should be made aware of the patient’s drug history. This information will determine what medications, if any, the patient should receive to ease the stress of detoxification.

The second component of treatment can make all the difference in terms of long-term recovery. No drug treatment program is complete without psychotherapy, which educates patients on the reasons and thought processes behind the cycles of addiction. In many instances, patients who leave a treatment program after detox, without going through psychotherapy sessions, invariably relapse.

Therapy following detox will help a patient learn how to act and think in ways that give them more control and clarity in everyday life. After psychotherapy and discharge from a treatment facility, a patient should start an outpatient program, and remain connected to aftercare support programs, like NA groups. Such outlets provide constant support and solidarity, further distancing the patient from the temptation to take Suboxone again.

At Futures, we have trained medical and mental health professionals on our team who are here for you. Please call us today and take the first step in overcoming a Suboxone addiction.

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Our specialized staff stands ready to help you through this challenging time.


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