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How to Overcome Suboxone Addiction: Detox, Withdrawal, and Rehab Options

suboxone pills

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a synthetic opiate and a medication that contains naloxone and buprenorphine. It is only available with a prescription and is typically used to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms or as a maintenance medication for people who are recovering from drug addiction.

Buprenorphine, a partial agonist, blocks opioid receptors and reduces their effects, while naloxone helps prevent the misuse of opioid drugs and prevents overdose. Together, these two drugs can effectively help adults overcome their dependence and addiction to opioid drugs.

Suboxone is available in tablet form and as a film that dissolves under the tongue. Although some studies show that it is more effective than methadone for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and it is touted as a safer, less stigmatized alternative, it has a high potential for abuse.

Since its approval by the FDA in 2002, Suboxone has been widely abused.

  • In 2010, more than 18,000 doctors were prescribing Suboxone to more than 800,000 patients.
  • More than 3 million Americans with opioid dependence have been treated with Suboxone.
  • In 2012, 9.3 million prescriptions for Suboxone were written.
  • Suboxone was involved in 30,135 ER visits in 2010, compared to just 3,161 ER visits in 2005. More than half of the 30,135 ER visits in 2010 were for non-medical use of the drug.
  • Suboxone is currently the 39th top-selling drug in the U.S.
  • Currently, there are nearly 15,700 physicians who have been approved by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the DEA for office-based narcotic buprenorphine treatment.

All drugs containing buprenorphine, including Suboxone, are Schedule III drugs under the Controlled Substances Act.

Subutex vs Suboxone: What’s the Difference?

Both Subutex and Suboxone contain the drug buprenorphine and are approved by the FDA to treat opioid addiction. The primary difference between the two is that Subutex only contains buprenorphine and Suboxone contains both buprenorphine and naloxone. Subutex was also formulated first, but users had a tendency to abuse it by injecting it. Suboxone was created with the intention to limit this abuse, as injecting it will cause immediate withdrawal effects which can be very unpleasant.

Overcoming Suboxone addiction is possible.
Medical detox and rehab can provide tools and resources to get sober.
Start your recovery today by calling (512) 605-2955.

Is Suboxone Addictive?

Suboxone can be very addictive if it is abused. According to the DEA, buprenorphine is about 20-30 times more potent than morphine and can produce a dose-related euphoria and sedation like other narcotic drugs. Many people who abuse Suboxone do so for the narcotic-like high and end up addicted to an opioid medication that was supposed to help them overcome their initial opioid dependence.

Although the naloxone component of Suboxone is designed to prevent misuse, some people have managed to bypass that by snorting the pill or dissolving the film strip and then injecting the solution. Suboxone addiction may also be more likely among people who have not previously abused opioids or who have not been addicted to them in the past. This is more likely to occur in instances where the user obtains Suboxone illegally without a prescription, such as through a friend.

Drugs Frequently Abused with Suboxone

For many Suboxone abusers, getting high on Suboxone involves abusing another drug simultaneously. A few common substances that people take with Suboxone to get high include Adderall, alcohol, and benzodiazepines.

  • Side effects of combining Suboxone and Adderall: Since Adderall is a stimulant and Suboxone is a depressant, taking the two drugs together can cancel out some of their effects. As a result, the user may feel like they are not achieving the desired effects, and take more of either substance or both. This can increase the risk of overdose.
  • Side effects of combining Suboxone and alcohol: Taking Suboxone with other central nervous system depressants like alcohol can be extremely dangerous and deadly. Combining Suboxone and alcohol can intensify the effects of both substances, producing severe effects, including loss of consciousness or respiratory failure. Drinking alcohol while taking Suboxone can also increase GABA production in the brain, which can lower heart rate, body temperature, and respiration.
  • Side effects of combining Suboxone and benzos: Mixing Suboxone and benzodiazepines can cause extreme sedation, coma, or even death. Despite the risks, one 2007 study found about two-thirds of people taking buprenorphine were also taking benzodiazepines.

Side Effects of Suboxone Abuse and Addiction

While combining other drugs with Suboxone can have devastating effects, the side effects of Suboxone abuse on its own are also very harmful. Common side effects of Suboxone abuse and addiction include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Watery eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Fainting
  • Excessive sweating
  • Drowsiness
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches
  • Poor coordination
  • Mood swings
  • Erratic behavior
  • Impaired cognition
  • Depression
  • Memory problems

Signs and Symptoms of Suboxone Abuse and Addiction

If someone is abusing Suboxone or is addicted to it, there may be a few signs and symptoms of the abuse. Common signs of Suboxone abuse include:

  • Doctor shopping or getting excessive amounts of prescriptions for Suboxone.
  • Receiving an excessive amount of packages in the mail (could be a sign the person is purchasing Suboxone illegally online).
  • Finding needles or other drug paraphernalia typically used to inject drugs.
  • Losing a large amount of weight quickly and without explanation.
  • Having sudden, unexplained financial problems.
  • Associating with a different social circle of friends.
  • Isolating oneself from friends and family members.
  • Losing interest in hobbies and activities that are typically enjoyed.
  • Having strained relationships with loved ones.

If a friend or loved one is showing several of the signs listed above, he or she may be abusing Suboxone or suffering from Suboxone addiction.

Suboxone Detox and Withdrawal

If a person is abusing Suboxone and becomes dependent on it, he or she will experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit. Suboxone withdrawal is notorious for being very uncomfortable and for lasting a long time. In some cases, Suboxone withdrawal symptoms can persist for months.

Suboxone withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Teary eyes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • A runny nose
  • depression/mood swings
  • Excessive sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Vision problems
  • Dizziness
  • Drug cravings
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Extreme sensitivity to pain
  • Chills
  • Agitation

Suboxone withdrawal can be very difficult, so it’s vital that you complete suboxone detox under the supervision of a medical doctor. A medically-assisted Suboxone detox program can ensure that you are comfortable and safe the entire time. In addition, your treatment team can help to safely wean you off the drug while treating any uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms you may experience.

Attempting to wean yourself off of Suboxone may result in severe discomfort, physical pain, or even unpredictable and deadly symptoms, especially if you’ve been using Suboxone with other drugs like alcohol or benzodiazepines.

A medical detox program for Suboxone addiction is an effective and safe method for individuals who want to stop abusing Suboxone and get sober without giving in to their cravings.

Suboxone Withdrawal Timeline

3 days after the last dose: Suboxone withdrawal symptoms are typically at their worst during this time and may be severely uncomfortable if left untreated.
1 week after the last dose: Aches and pains are common along with insomnia and mood swings.
2 weeks after the last dose: Although most of the severe withdrawal symptoms will have subsided by now, many people still experience symptoms of depression.
1 month after the last dose: Even one month after the last dose, some symptoms of withdrawal may linger, such as symptoms of depression and cravings for Suboxone. The potential for relapse is still high, even one month after detoxing, so it’s important for people to stay in treatment, whether it be inpatient or outpatient drug rehab.

How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Your System?

If you are taking Suboxone (whether for medical purpose of recreationally) it will be detected via drug test as an opiate. The duration of time that Suboxone stays in your system will vary greatly depending on several different factors, including your metabolism, your weight, co-occurring disorders, and any other drugs you are taking with Suboxone.

People who are recovering from addiction and taking Suboxone for sobriety maintenance purposes may be concerned about drug testing for employment purposes. Although a Suboxone drug test can detect buprenorphine in the urine, in most cases, a Suboxone drug test will not be administered for employment purposes. It has, however, become more common.

If you are taking Suboxone for addiction recovery purposes, you may want to disclose that information to your potential employer so your drug test results are not skewed.

Struggling with Suboxone addiction? We can help.
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Treatment for Suboxone Addiction

Upon the completion of Suboxone detox, the risk of relapse is very high. For this reason, it is essential to stay in treatment and enlist medical and clinical help to stay sober. A drug rehab program for Suboxone addiction may provide the accountability and care you need to maintain your sobriety and begin a new, permanent lifestyle.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), long-term addiction treatment that lasts at least 90 days will provide the best opportunity for continued success in sobriety. Someone recovering from opioid addiction and Suboxone abuse may have the best chance at achieving long-term sobriety with a comprehensive 90-day drug rehab program.

During drug rehab, clients will receive behavioral therapy and clinical counseling to gain several important skills that are essential to sustained sobriety. Rehab typically consists of:

Inpatient Drug Rehab vs. Outpatient Drug Rehab for Suboxone Addiction

The two main types of drug rehab programs are inpatient drug rehab and outpatient drug rehab. If you or a loved one is recovering from Suboxone addiction, any type of rehab program will help you maintain your sobriety, but inpatient and outpatient programs both have their unique benefits.

  • If you enroll in an inpatient drug rehab program, you will live in gender-specific, group housing at a rehab center throughout the duration of your treatment program. Each day will consist of a structured daily schedule during which you will participate in group and individual activities that pertain to your recovery program. While you’re in treatment, you may be awarded day and/or night passes to leave the rehab center, but you will spend the majority of your time at the facility completing treatment. This type of rehab program is ideal for someone who needs a great deal of structure or who struggles with chronic relapse.
  • If you choose to enroll in an outpatient drug rehab program, you’ll be required to attend co-ed group meetings facilitated in a safe, sober, and clinical environment. Meetings are typically held 2-3 times weekly and will consist of the same education, relapse prevention strategies, 12-Step Program work, and clinical work that is found in an inpatient program. The primary difference between the two is that IOP allows for greater flexibility. Clients can live at home, go to work, attend school, and care for their children while they are enrolled in treatment.

The cost of an inpatient or outpatient drug rehab program will vary, based on several factors including:

  • The type of programming/recovery services offered
  • The location of the rehab center
  • The duration of the program
  • The amenities provided

Regardless of the cost, clients have many different payment options, such as utilizing medical insurance benefits, Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefits, third-party financed healthcare loans, or out-of-pocket payments. If you have health insurance, your insurance provider may cover the complete cost or a portion of the cost of treatment, depending on the rehab center’s location and whether it is in-netowrk or out-of-network.

Continued Care Options for Suboxone Addiction Treatment

Recovering from Suboxone addiction is an ongoing process that will require months and years of continued work. Just as recovery from substance abuse is a process, so is addiction treatment. Many people who achieve long-term sobriety complete several rounds of treatment including detox, residential rehab, IOP, sober living, and aftercare.

In continuing your addiction treatment on a long-term basis, you are reducing your risk of relapse and establishing a firm foundation of knowledge, sober experience, and like-minded peers in recovery.

Sober living programs and aftercare programs are two types of continued care options for people who are recovering from Suboxone addiction.

Sober Living Programs

Sober living homes are transitional living spaces that are designed to help adults in recovery transition from rehab to independent sober life on their own. Sober living programs provide safe, clean, and sober gender-specific group homes, as well as several different recovery support services like:

These recovery support services are intended to provide accountability, guidance, peer support, and an overall sense of structure for individuals who are trying to figure out what a new life in sobriety looks like.

Sober living homes can be beneficial during any stage of sobriety and many people recovering from Suboxone addiction and other types of substance abuse problems find sober living programs to be an essential part of their recovery process.

Aftercare Programs

Aftercare is another type of continued care option that is tailored specifically for alumni of drug and alcohol rehab programs. These clients attend weekly group aftercare sessions to convene with other addicts in recovery, discuss recovery-related issues, and provide encouragement and advice to their peers.

For many people in recovery, an aftercare program is an essential part of fully overcoming Suboxone addiction because it provides a “home base” where they can feel safe, supported and understood, despite their struggles.

If you or a loved one is suffering from Suboxone abuse or addiction, there’s no reason to wait another day to seek help. Call Nova Recovery Center today to learn more about our detox, rehab, and aftercare services.

References:

  1. https://www.drugs.com/stats/suboxone
  2. http://nationalpainreport.com/sharp-rise-in-suboxone-emergency-room-visits-8818470.html
  3. http://nationalpainreport.com/suboxone-new-drug-epidemic-8821747.html
  4. https://www.suboxone.com/treatment/suboxone-film
  5. https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/buprenorphine.pdf
  6. https://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/17/health/in-demand-in-clinics-and-on-the-street-bupe-can-be-savior-or-menace.html?_r=0
  7. https://www.alcohol.org/mixing-with/suboxone/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17286641
  9. https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs10/10123/index.htm
  10. https://buprenorphine.io/what-is-suboxone-withdrawal-like
  11. https://www.redwoodtoxicology.com/resources/drug_info/buprenorphine
  12. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-long-does-buprenorphine-stay-in-your-system-80228

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