The statistics surrounding opioid use are nothing short of alarming, starting with the simple fact that 115 people die each day in the United States because of an overdose, prompting our own government to call opioid use a national crisis.
Like a knight in shining armor, Suboxone® burst onto the scene after it was approved by the FDA in 2002, and has been helping people fight opioid addiction ever since. But is Suboxone too good to be true? There are a lot of myths swirling around this treatment protocol, making finding a straight answer difficult.
Here at Vulcan Pain Management, our goal is to partner with our patients in Montgomery and Birmingham, Alabama, which means educating them about every aspect of their care. If you’re exploring whether Suboxone is right for you or a loved one, we’ve cut through the clutter to provide you with what you need to know.
Before we get into the myths and facts about Suboxone, let’s first take a look at what’s inside this medication and how it works. Suboxone contains two drugs: buprenorphine and naloxone, which accomplish two very different things.
The buprenorphine component is what’s known as a partial opioid agonist. When you use opioids, what you’re doing is activating receptors in your brain that have become rewired over the course of your use to receive more and more of the drug, producing uncontrollable cravings that demand to be satisfied. With an agonist, you can quiet these receptors by giving them a small amount of what they’re looking for.
The naloxone component is a pure opioid antagonist, which blocks agonists from reaching the demanding receptors. Naloxone can even go a step further by intercepting any signals that your receptors try to send to your brain. This means that even if you have opioids in your system, the antagonist essentially prevents you from feeling the effects of the drug, or getting high.
Ultimately, what Suboxone tries to accomplish is to quiet your receptors to prevent withdrawal, while also preventing you from using like you did before since you won’t feel the effects.
One of the biggest questions surrounding Suboxone is whether the treatment itself is addictive. Technically, yes, but the likelihood of this happening is very slim. First, the buprenorphine in Suboxone doesn’t act like pure opioids and is much slower to take effect and lasts longer because it’s simply designed to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay. One of the biggest hurdles when it comes to opioid use is withdrawal, which is so unpleasant that it sends even the most strong-willed back to the drug to find relief. With Suboxone, withdrawal symptoms are minimized, allowing you to wean off the opioids.
The goal of Suboxone is to prevent you from getting high while staving off withdrawal symptoms. The short answer to this question is that, if you take your Suboxone as prescribed, you won’t get high. And even if you relapse while you’re on Suboxone, the antagonists in Suboxone prevent you from feeling the full effects of the drug.
There are many facts and myths about the duration of Suboxone treatment when the bottom line is that everyone is different. Suboxone isn’t a magic pill that you take for a week or two, nor is it supposed to be a lifelong solution. When you sit down with Dr. Victor Mendoza at Vulcan Pain Management, the two of you come up with an initial plan that likely will change along the way to provide you with the best chance of success. So, while some people may take Suboxone for six months, others may need a year or more of treatment.
The answer to this is a hard No. Opioid use disorder is an incredibly complex disease that hijacks your mental, physical, and behavioral health in significant ways. So the best way to regain control of your life is to approach your recovery from every angle, as well. Alongside your Suboxone, you should participate in drug counseling programs, therapy, and whatever else it takes to free you from the bonds of addiction. Suboxone is an important piece in the recovery puzzle, but not the only piece.
If you’d like to explore whether Suboxone is right for you, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at Vulcan Pain Management. Or you can use our online booking tool to schedule a confidential consultation.