The Truth About Suboxone
What is Suboxone?
Suboxone, which is a sublingual combination tablet containing buprenorphine and naloxone, is a treatment option available to you at all HealthQwest Clinic locations. Our addiction professionals can assist you in determining if Suboxone is an appropriate choice that meets your needs.
What is Buprenorphine?
Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist which means that its opioid effects are limited when compared to substances like Oxycontin or heroin, which are full opioid agonists. At low doses buprenorphine produces sufficient agonist effect to enable opioid-addicted individuals to discontinue the misuse of opioids without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. The safety profile of buprenorphine, pharmacologically, makes it an attractive treatment option for patients addicted to opioids as well as for the addiction professionals treating them.
What is Naloxone?
Naloxone is an opioid antagonist. Naloxone is added to prevent people from diverting the medication and using it inappropriately. Antagonists also bind to brain receptors, but instead of activating receptors, they block receptors by preventing receptors from being activated. Suboxone is a very safe medication when used as directed. If not used correctly, the naloxone in Suboxone can cause opiate dependent patients to go into full withdrawal.
How long has Suboxone been available for use in treating opioid dependency issues?
In October 2002, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the buprenorphine product Subutex, and the buprenorphine/naloxone combination product, Suboxone, for use in opioid addiction treatment in the United States. Subutex and Suboxone are currently the only Schedule III, IV, or V medications to have received FDA approval for this indication. This approval of these buprenorphine formulations did not affect the status of other medication-assisted opioid addiction treatments, such as methadone, a Schedule II formulation. In Europe, where some of the original clinical trials first took place, buprenorphine was introduced in the mid 1990s.
Is there an average length of time that a patient should take Suboxone?
The length of treatment varies with each individual patient and is affected by many factors such as abused drug of choice, length of addiction and level of dependency, and previous treatment and relapse history. Relapse occurrence has a higher chance of happening if patients are not given enough time to learn the life-skills that will help them maintain an addiction free life.
Is it possible to change from methadone maintenance to Suboxone or vice versa?
Yes, but should be discussed with the addiction professionals who are treating you so they can devise a treatment plan to assist with a safe medication transition. It can be dangerous to change medications without consulting your physician.
Are there any safety concerns that I should have with using Suboxone?
With any medication in general, and particularly with opiates, it is critically important to follow medical advice and instructions when taking Suboxone. Injected abuse of buprenorphine, especially when used in combination with benzodiazepines or other depressants (including alcohol), has been linked to respiratory failure and death. Mixing Suboxone with other medications, particularly with depressants of any kind, sleeping pills, antidepressants, or any other opioid medications, can lead to over-sedation, unconsciousness, and death. It is important to notify clinic staff of all medications that are currently prescribed to you.
Please contact the nearest HealthQwest location to you for any further information regarding Suboxone treatment for opiate addiction, or, for any opiate addiction treatment questions you might have. Download the fee schedule here