Suboxone is a medication often used in other medicines used for treating addiction to opioid use or opioid use disorder (OUD). This medication helps addicts to stop their dependence on opioids such as morphine, heroin, codeine, or oxycodone. The drug manages withdrawal symptoms and also reduces cravings. Suboxone is also very useful in handling pain management for people with OUD. You can find out more about Suboxone here https://www.recoverydelivered.com/2022/11/20/what-is-suboxone/
How Does Suboxone Work?
Suboxone contains buprenorphine hydrochloride and Naloxone hydrochloride dihydrate. Buprenorphine hydrochloride is a partial-opioid receptor and acts as an opioid substitute, helping the addict withdraw from opioids over time. Buprenorphine reduces a patient’s withdrawal symptoms and cravings without the effect of an opioid like heroin or oxycodone, making it easier to stop abusing opioids. The drug has a high binding capacity and blocks opioids from binding to and activating your opioid receptors, deterring you from using other opioids.
Naloxone hydrochloride dihydrate is an FDA-approved drug combined with buprenorphine to form Suboxone. Naloxone rapidly reverses an opioid overdose when used on its own. The drug is an opioid antagonist, which binds to opioid receptors and blocks or reverses the effects of opioids such as morphine, heroin, etc. In other words, naloxone blocks the high that opioids induce.
Suboxone for Pain Management
FDA approves Suboxone for the treatment of OUD. Of the two active ingredients, only buprenorphine has approval for pain management. However, doctors sometimes use Suboxone “off-label” to manage acute or chronic pain. “Off-label “refers to when doctors prescribe a drug for purposes other than what the FDA approved and what the package label reads. The FDA has not approved the use of Suboxone as a pain relief medication.
Studies conducted on using Suboxone for acute and chronic pain show that Suboxone may provide chronic pain relief for opioid-dependent patients. Research also indicates that the drug reduces cravings and alleviates withdrawal symptoms.
However, the findings found that the drug’s unique pharmacological profile makes it a weak pain killer and unlikely to provide enough pain relief to people without opioid addiction. Suboxone also stays about twenty to sixty minutes after the first dose to start working. The drug blocks opioid receptors for approximately twenty-four hours and reaches its peak level in about two to three hours.
Potential Benefits of Suboxone
Suboxone has several potential benefits for treating opioid addiction, such as:
- Reduction of Symptom Withdrawal: Suboxone has the potential to reduce withdrawal symptoms of opioids in patients. However, patients should get Suboxone treatment alongside therapy and aftercare support.
- Alleviating pain and reducing cravings for opioids
- Blocking all effects of other opiates
- Has the potential to retain patients in the treatment programs
Using opioid drugs can lead to physical dependency. However, since Suboxone is a partial opioid agonist, it does not generate the euphoria familiar with full agonist drugs like oxycodone. Suboxone offers support that allows patients to focus on the rest of the treatment process, such as counseling.
When the opiate addiction is too strong, the patient has to dilute the cravings until they taper out and stop slowly. Suboxone treatments are less likely to cause addiction than other treatments like methadone.
Drawbacks of Suboxone
While Suboxone is the safer alternative to methadone, it also has some drawbacks. The common ones include:
- Insomnia or drowsiness
- Tingling or numbness in arms or legs
- Digestive issues such as constipation, stomach pains, and vomiting
- Concentration difficulties
- Poor coordination
- Dizziness or headaches
In addition to these side effects, Suboxone may have more severe drawbacks, such as:
- Double or blurred vision
- Extreme weakness and complete loss of coordination
- Weak or shallow breathing
A tiny percentage may have potentially life-threatening allergic reactions from Suboxone, such as:
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the throat, face, lips, or tongue
Suboxone may not be effective for some types of pain, depending on your circumstances. Suboxone treats opioid use disorder and not chronic pain. As mentioned, some doctors prescribe it as “off-label” for pain, which is not its intended use. Buprenorphine is an opioid antagonist with a minor pain-relieving effect, meaning it won’t effectively relieve pain in people without opiate addictions.
Suboxone helps a patient manage opioid withdrawal symptoms and chronic pain. People with OUD and chronic pain stand a higher risk of overdosing if they take some pain medication. However, Suboxone relieves their pain and helps them avoid a relapse.
Suboxone is a drug of choice for treating OUD, unlike methadone used in the past. The drug has two active ingredients, i.e., buprenorphine hydrochloride and Naloxone hydrochloride dihydrate. The former acts as an opiate substitute, which helps the patient avoid withdrawal symptoms. Naloxone hydrochloride dihydrate blocks or reverses the effects of opioids such as heroin or morphine.
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