Suboxone is dispensed in clinics and doctors’ offices and comes in a sublingual film or tablet, or can be given in I-V treatment. Suboxone allows for conversion from heroin or other opiates without dramatic or painful withdrawals. Buprenorphine, the generic drug, is a partial agonist, which means that it produces some of the characteristics of other opiates such as euphoria and lowered respiration, but to a much lesser extent than heroin or methadone.
The FDA has recently approved a new generic product that combines Suboxone with Naloxone in a sublingual film form, which has been designed to block the high or euphoria, but still significantly dampen uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
There is information available to help in understanding the best use of Suboxone and some of the risks to avoid, if you are considering starting or stopping Suboxone.
What Is Suboxone Used for?
According to US government statistics, approximately 130 people die each day from opioid abuse.
Suboxone is primarily used as a withdrawal management tool, as part of a more comprehensive treatment program for opiate addictions. Sometimes Suboxone is prescribed for a long-term “maintenance” strategy for opiate cessation. However, when used as a bridge medication, Suboxone is easier to taper from than other opiates.
There is a “ceiling effect” that accompanies daily use of Suboxone, where the euphoric opioid effects initially increase with each daily dose, until these effects level off, even if the dose is increased. This is thought to help reduce the risk of Suboxone abuse.
Suboxone Alternative Names and Slang
Suboxone has acquired a number of street or slang names, such as Sobos, Sub, Stops, Box or Boxes, Oranges, and Saboxin. Buprenorphine might be called “Bupe” on the street market.
Suboxone Side Effects
Side effects while taking Suboxone are similar to other opiates, such as heroin, but are generally milder. These can include:
- Euphoria (mild
- Muscular and bone pain
- Agitation, anxiety
- Depression, irritability
Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms
Coming off Suboxone should never be done cold turkey if that can be avoided. Quitting buprenorphine or any equivalent drug can create similar withdrawals to heroin or other opiates, and can include:
- Drug cravings
- Profuse sweating
- Loss of appetite
- Rashes, skin crawling, goose bumps, redness, chills, hot flashes
- Insomnia, disturbed sleep
- Bone or muscle pain, cramps
- Tiredness, fatigue, weakness
- Mood changes, irritability, anger, hopelessness, crying
Quitting Suboxone is hardly ever discussed in medical literature. The drug has been more or less grouped in with other MAT methods, often involving years of continued drug use. This is not always necessary and is often not the most desired outcome of addiction treatment.
Using effective techniques, Suboxone can be used as a bridge medication for quitting other opiate drugs, but the person does not have to be left with ongoing use of an opiate drug to get sober and stay clean.
The following information covers various options for quitting opiates, including Suboxone, Subutex, or Methadone, removing the need for long time use as the means to reach your sobriety goals.
For clients who are I-V heroin users, or those involved in heavy opioid medication abuse, Suboxone has the advantage of helping a person transition from harmful abuse patterns to a more sustainable way of life. For an abuser, relapse brings the very real possibility of death by overdose. This is, at least in part, because tolerance to opiates will decrease with abstinence. What Suboxone can do is reduce the likelihood of relapse and thereby lower the risk of overdose and accidental death. However, there is more to understand about using Suboxone.
Persons who are craving opiates may have a biological reason for doing so. A person may be plagued by an addictive biochemistry that can actually be corrected. Natural endorphin levels can be restored through protocols designed to do this repair naturally, as well as implementing lifestyle changes that support recovery. The goal is to accomplish this correction with a minimum of pain or discomfort. Holistic methods have come a long way in providing treatment that can effectively reduce pain and discomfort, both physical and emotional, during recovery. If these holistic methods can be adopted as new lifestyle choices, there is a stronger chance of permanent success.
It may prove difficult to adopt many new changes all at once, and if this is the case, Suboxone can provide a viable pathway in the meantime. This may be a pragmatic choice to avoid relapse. Sooner or later there may come a time when stopping Suboxone seems a very desirable next step, and this is also a great choice.
Since Suboxone is a long-acting opioid, it can present challenges when withdrawing from the drug; after long-term Suboxone use withdrawals can be severe, sometimes described as tormenting, and can last for weeks, especially when the person is not able to access support or inpatient treatment.
However, the Alternative to Meds Center specializes in withdrawal from Suboxone, using gentle and gradual taper methods, supported with many comfort-based therapies to make the process maximally tolerable and as comfortable and uncomplicated as possible. Endorphin repair is a great advantage for this process, and makes coming off Suboxone a sustainable and very reachable goal, especially when the strategies have been well and carefully planned, as discussed here.