Opioid medications can play a crucial role in relieving significant pain, but unfortunately, they can also be highly addictive. About a million Americans have died from drug overdoses over the past decade, and many more have had nonfatal overdoses and serious addiction issues that have taken a significant toll on their lives.
Opioid addiction can be challenging to overcome, requiring medical intervention to relieve withdrawal symptoms that can also be life-threatening. In recent years, Suboxone® has emerged as an effective tool for helping people overcome addictions and lead healthier lives.
At Vulcan Pain Management, Victor Mendoza, MD, tailors Suboxone treatment for patients in Birmingham, Alabama, who are struggling with opioid use disorder. Here’s how Suboxone works and how it could help you.
Opioid use disorder: The basics
Opioids work by altering the way your brain perceives pain. Specifically, these medications work with chemicals called neurotransmitters that carry pain signals from one nerve cell to another. Neurotransmitters interact with special receptors on the surface of nerve cells, determining the reaction that happens in response to pain.
Different receptors tend to be more sensitive to specific neurotransmitters. Nerve cells with opioid receptors bind strongly with opioid drugs (both prescription and illicit) and “natural” opioids like endorphins.
When opioids interact with these opioid-sensitive receptors create pleasurable sensations and a feeling of deep relaxation. If you’ve ever heard of a “runner’s high,” that’s an example of those receptors responding to natural endorphins released with physical exercise.
How use disorder happens
While natural (endogenous) opioids like endorphins create a mild response, the effect of opioid drugs is much more intense. This intensity plays a major role in driving use disorder or addiction.
What’s more, as your body grows more used to the drug, the receptor response subsides, and before long, you need more of the frug to achieve the effects you’ve become used to. Trying to limit drug use can result in very unpleasant side effects and even increase your risk of life-threatening issues, like a decrease in respiration rates or heart problems.
Opioids cause both physical and emotional dependence. Eventually, these factors create a dangerous cycle that’s very hard to overcome on your own.
How Suboxone works
Suboxone works by gradually decreasing your body’s reliance on opioids, giving you the opportunity to break the dangerous cycle of addiction. To do that, it relies on two medications that make up Sboxone’s unique formulation.
Buprenorphine is the primary component of Suboxone. An opioid itself, buprenorphine binds very strongly to opioid receptors, preventing other opioids from having an effect. At the same time, buprenorphine produces a much lower “pleasure effect” to help you feel normal without dangerous “highs” that can drive a need for more drugs.
Naloxone is the second component and binds strongly with opioid receptors. This component helps prevent becoming addicted to buprenorphine. Suboxone is provided in film form, which also helps prevent abuse.
Suboxone requires a prescription and regular monitoring to ensure your treatment stays on track. It’s vital to take the medication exactly as prescribed each day. Varying from the prescribed dose can result in unpleasant side effects or “restart” the addiction cycle.
Take control of your healthy future
Suboxone offers a pathway out of substance use disorder, helping people overcome physical and emotional dependence issues while controlling the challenges of withdrawal. If you or someone you know suffers from opioid use disorder, call 205-258-7246 or book an appointment online at Vulcan Pain Management today.