Suboxone is the trade name used to refer to the combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. The combination drug formulation also involves a μ-opioid receptor (MOR) weak partial agonist and a κ-opioid receptor antagonist.
The combination is available as sublingual tablets or film. It is used to help fight opioid dependence, often with the help of counseling and a supportive environment. Patients have been known to respond well to this substance, making it useful for treating dependence.
However, the drug has contraindications such as acute alcoholism and severe respiratory or liver impairment. The drug also has its fair share of abusers. Recreational use of the drug has led governments to intervene. In fact, less than 16,000 physicians are allowed to prescribe Suboxone in the US as of 2013.
In 2012, 3 million prescriptions were written for buprenorphine—as statistic that also includes combination drugs like Suboxone.
Just like other illicit drugs, this one is dangerous when abused. Between 2006 and 2011, the number of buprenorphine-related visits to the ER quintupled.
Typically used for the treatment of opioid abuse and withdrawal, it’s quite ironic that Suboxone itself is being abused. This is because the drug is also an opioid.
Though it may serve to counter the euphoric effects of other opioids, it can also be used recreationally—something that often leads to addiction and dependence. It is commonly taken in tablet form, but some recreational users also take it through a sublingual film that quickly dissolves when inserted under the tongue.
When taken in higher doses, this drug can also calm the body and produce feelings of euphoria. It can ease pain, reduce cravings for other opiates, and make the user feel drowsier. Because of these effects, people can also get hooked on the substance. One of the dangers of using Suboxone is opiate withdrawal—something that occurs when the drug is taken while another opioid is still in the system.
Other side effects may occur based on the dosage taken. Unfortunately, recreational use of the drug often involves much larger doses than commonly prescribed. The adverse effects also depend on whether it was taken with other drugs or not.
Common side effects include blurred vision, constipation, insomnia, nausea, low blood pressure, excessive sweating, fainting, and even respiratory depression.
To make matters worse, it is possible to overdose on the drug, although it is admittedly harder to overdose on this drug. The risk increases when it is used alongside other substances like alcohol and BZD. Overdose often involves intense effects such as depression, slowed breathing, coma, and even death.
Using Suboxone with other drugs is a common practice because it is believed to produce a more intense high.
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms such as slurred speech, lack of coordination, vision problems, extreme drowsiness, and frequent loss of consciousness.
When dependence develops, it can be harder to recover from the drug’s influence. Withdrawal symptoms will make it more challenging to get off the drug on your own. But recovery is still possible, and it is easiest if you can find a rehabilitation center that’s convenient and well-equipped.
The patient will undergo medical examination. The best treatment plan will be formed based on their health condition and history of drug abuse.
The first stage of rehabilitation involves detoxification. The doctors will gradually lower the patient’s drug intake while addressing the symptoms that may manifest during it. The patient may also undergo counseling, group therapy sessions, and behavioral therapy.
All these methods will help the patient readjust to a life without drugs.