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Opiate addiction has reached an all-time high in recent years, creating a national drug crisis of epidemic proportions. With the myriad of people dependent on these addictive drugs, many may desire treatment but have fears about the detox and withdrawal processes that may ensue. As such, people looking to get sober from opiate addiction may opt for a gentle detox approach to mitigate the often intense symptoms experienced with withdrawal. Because of this, someone suffering from a substance abuse disorder may decide to go to a Suboxone clinic to detox, thinking Suboxone is a much safer and easier withdrawal method than other clinical approaches. 

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However, while Suboxone therapy may seem like the golden approach to treating opiate addiction, it is best first to understand what exactly Suboxone is and analyze some of the major flaws in receiving this form of treatment before concluding the best next steps to sobriety.

First and foremost, although everyone is looking for the easiest way to get sober, it is often best to question the integrity of “quick fix” solutions for long-term sobriety. Therefore, before someone with a substance abuse disorder detoxifies with Suboxone, they must learn the side effects of taking Suboxone and review the best, most proven methods of treating opiate addiction long-term before deciding to take addiction treatment into their own hands. Understanding that there are better approaches to long-term sobriety than quick fixes is also beneficial. Learning these approaches and how to utilize them will allow for lifelong success in sobriety.

What is Suboxone, and How is it Used for Opiate Addiction?

In simplest terms, Suboxone is a prescription medication typically used to treat opioid addiction. The main, active ingredients in Suboxone work together with buprenorphine and naloxone to prevent withdrawal symptoms experienced with opioid addiction by blocking opiate receptors and reversing the effects of opioids on the brain. Specifically, buprenorphine produces similar effects as other opioid drugs. However, because buprenorphine does not produce a powerful high, some experts consider it lower risk of overdose than other opioid drugs. Naloxone, on the other hand, is a powerful opioid antagonist. It blocks the effects other opioid drugs have on the brain, firing off less of the “reward” centers in the brain and making opioids less desirable to take. 

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In this way, Suboxone is classified as an opioid partial antagonist, meaning that it binds to the same brain receptors as opioid drugs like heroin, OxyContin, Vicodin, and morphine. This can be particularly appealing to someone addicted to opioids because it attaches to the same receptors that an opioid attaches to, so the person’s urge to use opioid drugs is greatly reduced. This, in the short term, may appear to make a transition into sobriety easier.

Furthermore, with its wide availability and easy access, one doesn’t need to seek care from a specialized treatment center to use Suboxone. This means that doctors have the power to prescribe Suboxone to any patient claiming to have a substance abuse disorder. In fact, since being approved by the FDA in 2002, Suboxone has been prescribed to millions of Americans with opioid addiction.

Suboxone is prescribed under many names, including:

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

Furthermore, Suboxone is typically prescribed for people struggling with dependence on short-acting opioids (opioids that act quicker and leave the system faster than long-acting opioids) such as heroin and prescription painkillers. However, it is not typically recommended for long-acting opioids like oxycodone and morphine.  Before utilizing this form of treatment, however, it is essential that one further understands just how Suboxone is used and its major drawbacks.

Side Effects and Addictiveness of Suboxone

Despite the lure of a quick-fix transition into sobriety, there are major drawbacks to utilizing Suboxone as a sole treatment approach for opiate addiction management. There are several potential side effects to consider when deciding if Suboxone is right for you.

Some common side effects of Suboxone include:

  • Drowsiness or insomnia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches or dizziness
  • Impaired coordination
  • Numbness or tingling in extremities (particularly the hands and feet)
  • Stomach pain, vomiting, digestive issues
  • Opioid withdrawal symptoms (body aches, abdominal cramps, rapid heart rate, etc.)
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More serious side effects that require immediate medical attention include:

  • Severe cognitive impairment
  • High blood pressure 
  • Heart palpitations
  • Complete loss of coordination 
  • Severe physical weakness
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Jaundice
  • Shallow or weak breathing
  • Severe nausea and stomach pain
  • Slurred speech
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Although rare, Suboxone can cause a life-threatening allergic reaction.

Seek emergency medical care immediately for the following symptoms:

  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the tongue, throat, lips, or face

Furthermore, because Suboxone works on the same brain receptors that opioid drugs interact with, Suboxone does possess the ability to become addictive to the user. Therefore, the best approach for lasting sobriety from opiate addiction is to eliminate all chances of perpetuating addiction and receive a more holistic, well-rounded treatment plan. 

Receiving Treatment for an Opiate Addiction That Works

There are more effective ways to treat an opiate addiction than Suboxone therapy. One of the most effective ways to have long-term success with sobriety is to go to an inpatient/intensive outpatient drug rehab facility. Suboxone is merely replacing one form of addiction with another drug, which can potentially become addictive to the user. Because it’s only treating addiction on the surface level, the risk of relapse is much greater. Treating the addiction on a much deeper level takes time and effort, but the results have a greater chance of being sustainable long-term.

Finding a drug rehab specializing in a holistic, well-rounded treatment approach is proven to provide the longest-lasting results needed to maintain life-long sobriety. As such, receiving therapy or counseling in an inpatient/intensive outpatient rehab will help to uncover the reasons why you are addicted to opioids in the first place. Understanding your triggers around coping with drugs will give you the awareness and tools to handle the triggers that may pop up daily to avoid relapse traps. 

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You can have long-term sobriety without the pain of intense withdrawal symptoms often experienced with opioid detox. You deserve lifelong sobriety and not a quick fix that can set you up for future relapse. If you or a loved one are seeking drug treatment in Austin, consider Infinite Recovery. Our experienced clinical team takes a holistic, hand-tailored approach to our patients, and we are ready to help you start living a life 

Reach out to our friendly admissions coordinators to start living a life full of purpose and fulfillment that sobriety offers.

Sources:

Infinite Recovery has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our editorial guidelines and medical review policy.

  1. Entringer S. Suboxone Uses, Dosage, Side Effects & Warnings. Drugs.com. Published June 1, 2022. Accessed June 24, 2022. https://www.drugs.com/suboxone.html
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Naloxone DrugFacts. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published January 11, 2022. Accessed June 24, 2022. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/naloxone
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. How do medications to treat opioid use disorder work? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published December 2021. Accessed June 24, 2022. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/medications-to-treat-opioid-addiction/how-do-medications-to-treat-opioid-addiction-work
  4. Brewer A. Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone): Side effects, dosage, and more. Published June 15, 2022. Accessed June 24, 2022. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325827
Amanda Stevens, BS

Medical Content Writer

Amanda Stevens, BS

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. As a person in recovery from disordered eating, she is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. She writes for popular treatment centers such as Ocean Recovery, Ascendant NY, The Heights Treatment, Epiphany Wellness, New Waters Recovery and adolescent mental health treatment center BasePoint Academy. In her spare time she loves learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and enjoys being the a mother of a beautiful daughter.

Last medically reviewed June 24, 2022

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