Suboxone Abuse and Addiction

The addiction to prescription opiates and opioids has turned into an epidemic in United States. National Survey on Drug Use and Health, conducted in 2014, revealed that over 1.9 million Americans were suffering from a prescription painkillers use disorder. Opioids are very potent painkillers which are frequently prescribed by the doctors to patients suffering from unbearable pain. Such as the patients of terminal cancer, accident victims etc are often prescribed opioid painkillers like hydrocodone. Just like illicit, strong opioids, for example heroin, prescription painkillers are habit forming. Once the dependence develops on these drugs, proper treatment plan is needed for recovery. A number of medications are used during the process including opioid antagonists i-e the drugs which work in a way essentially opposite to opioids. They help block the effects of opioids. Suboxone is one of these drugs. It is partial antagonist to opioids, the reason why it is used during the treatment process.

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a medicine developed to be used during the treatment process of opioid addictions. It is a mixture of Buprenorphine and naloxone. It is frequently used during the replacement therapy of opioid/opiates addicts. However, it is important to maintain medical supervision throughout the process since Suboxone can be habit forming itself. It is called a partial opioid antagonist since it binds to the same receptors in brain as opioids but it is not an opioid itself. Hence, it helps to replace more dangerous drugs like heroin.

Suboxone is used to achieve following purposes:

  • To reduce opioid cravings
  • To suppress withdrawal symptoms

It is frequently used in medical practices for the treatment of addictions. Suboxone was approved by FDA in 2012, for the sole purpose of treatment of addiction. It was initially sold as Subutex which was discontinued in 2011. To this date, Suboxone is sold under a number of different brand names such as:

  • Probuphine
  • Norspan
  • Buprenex
  • Butrans
  • Cizdol
  • Suboxone
  • Temgesic
  • Zubsolv
  • Bunavail

Commonly, Suboxone is available in tablet forms which are ingested orally. Recently a number of different forms of Suboxone have been introduced such as extended release transdermal patches sold under the brand names Butrans and Probuphine.

Since Suboxone is abused by recreational users, a number of brand names are given to it such as:

  • Sobos
  • Boxes
  • Bupes
  • Stops/stop signs
  • Saboxins
  • Oranges

Dosage amounts for Suboxone:

Dosage amounts of Suboxone depend upon the condition of the patient or whether he is taking it directly after quitting opioid. Users who move to Suboxone from methadone usually require lower does. The dose of Suboxone is slowly tapered off as the treatment progresses. It is stabilized to a constant dose of 12-16 mgs for a certain period before it is quit.

Common Suboxone drug combinations:

Suboxone may be accidently or intentionally combined with other drugs. A number of drugs have been known to interact with Suboxone so it is important to consult your doctor before taking it in combination with any other drugs.

Combining benzodiazepines with Suboxone is particularly dangerous. Combining both these drugs have been known to cause more accidental injuries and emergency room visits. The risk of overdose is also significantly increased in case of polydrug abuse. When taken in dangerous high amounts, the results can be fatal.

Why is Suboxone addictive?

It is a common question by the users if Suboxone is addictive. The answer is yes, it can be habit forming when its use is prolonged. Although its addictive potential and chances of an addiction are lower, but it is possible. Suboxone is a combination of Buprenorphine and naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist so it can block opioid receptors. As a result the drug fails to produce its effects when consumed. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid antagonist, which means it works on the same receptors as opioids. As a result, it successfully fools the body into thinking that the opioid is still being provided this helping with withdrawal symptoms and treatment process.

Now, the question is, why is Suboxone addictive? It is because whenever the person craves opioids, he starts taking Suboxone to relieve his cravings, as a result, he becomes dependent on the drug. Sometimes, the addicts even dissolve the drug strips in water to form a solution to be injected. Although highly unlikely, but it is possible to become addicted to Suboxone even after strictly adhering to the prescription.

Suboxone abuse statistics:

Although Suboxone addiction is not as serious as the addiction of some other potent substances, it is still a harmful condition that requires proper treatment for recovery. Its harmful potential is further increased when it is taken in combination with other drugs.

  • In 2005, Suboxone use caused 3,161 emergency room visits.
  • In 2012 the number spiked up a great deal and about 30,135 emergency room visits were cause by Buprenorphine use. More than half of these incidences involved Buprenorphine abuse.
  • About 3 million Americans have been subjected to Suboxone treatment.