What Is Suboxone?

What Is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a medication used to treat opioid addiction, including addiction to heroin and narcotic painkillers. When taken as prescribed, it can be both safe and effective. Suboxone is not a cure for opioid addiction. It should be used as a component of another form of treatment, such as inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment programs that focus on the underlying causes of addiction and reduce the risk of relapse.

Suboxone can be taken as either a tablet or a film and is placed under the tongue to dissolve. It suppresses both cravings for opioids and withdrawal symptoms, which can help prevent relapse. A single dose blocks the euphoric effects of other opioids for at least 24 hours. When used as prescribed, Suboxone does not cause euphoria.

How Does It Work?

Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Naloxone is very effective at blocking the effects of opioid medication. However, it can trigger withdrawal symptoms in people who are taking an opioid, causing effects that range from agitation and irritability, to wild mood swings, insomnia, nausea and vomiting, muscle cramping, and diarrhea. Patients who have been chronically addicted to full opioids like heroin can develop seizures and respiratory failure, which can prove fatal. Therefore, naxolone is combined with buprenorphine, a weak opioid medication. Since buprenorphine triggers the opioid receptors in the brain only partially, the “highs” are quite low in comparison to those created by strong opioids, and they are not as habit-forming. Thus, Suboxone’s combination of naloxone and buprenorphine provides a way for the patient to be weaned off their addiction gradually, minimizing withdrawal symptoms. This makes Suboxone both effective and safer than alternative medications like methadone.

Suboxone Treatment

The duration of the various treatment phases should be adjusted according the person's needs. The last 2 stages - medical maintenance and long-term recovery - will be the longest and, in some cases, may need to continue indefinitely.

Induction phase

The first phase of Suboxone treatment, "induction," must be supervised by a physician. It begins once a person enters the early stages of withdrawal. The physician will prescribe the medication and try to find the lowest dose that will reduce the person's use of other opioids without causing withdrawal symptoms, serious side effects, or cravings.

If a person takes Suboxone prior to entering the early stages of withdrawal or has other opioids in his or her system, the medication can cause acute feelings of withdrawal.

Stabilization phase

As soon as cravings for opioids subside and side effects deminish, the second stage begins. The prescribing physician may adjust dosing during this stage.

Maintenance phase

The next phase is called "maintenance." Under direction of the physician, the patient will continue to take medication as prescribed and seek counseling or other forms of behavioral therapy. This stage of treatment also begins a medically supervised withdrawal from Suboxone, gradually reducing the dose to smooth the transition and reduce the likelihood of relapse.

Recovery phase

The last phase is recovery. Ideally, this will include aftercare planning by a case manager or a counselor. Some patients may benefit from ongoing outpatient therapy such as 12-step programs and/or individual or group therapy.

Our Services for Opioid Addiction Treatment:

  • Administration of Suboxone

  • Medically supervised withdrawal

  • Medical exams to ensure safety

  • Convenient outpatient services

  • Referrals

  • Confidentiality



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