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So, what happens when the medicine becomes the poison? Such can be the case for Suboxone, the opioid replacement drug used in medication-assisted treatment programs for individuals in recovery for opiate addiction. Suboxone is heralded as a highly effective tool for helping heroin and opioid addicts transition into a sustained recovery. However, Suboxone is also a drug that can be abused itself, landing the individual right back into opioid addiction.
For those who have succumbed to Suboxone abuse, the same steps taken to break free from the original opiate addiction will be necessary to revisit. This includes a Suboxone withdrawal and a new round of addiction treatment. Suboxone withdrawal is a highly unpleasant process, which can be managed safely in a medical detox program. Detox is the first step in the Suboxone recovery process before transitioning into rehab.
What is Suboxone?
Suboxone is one of the drugs used in medication-assisted treatment programs for individuals in recovery from opioid addiction. Suboxone consists of the partial opioid agonist, buprenorphine, and the opioid antagonist, naloxone. Used in conjunction with psychotherapy, Suboxone is prescribed as a step down replacement for the opioid of abuse, helping individuals to wean off of opioids.
Suboxone works by attaching to the same opioid receptors as opioids of abuse, then reducing the effects of the opioid. Suboxone is dispensed as a sublingual film strips or tablets in four dosage options, or as an implant that remains under the skin for six months. Suboxonea is usually prescribed for the first several months to a year following rehab. Suboxone can help reduce drug cravings over time, increasing the likelihood of a sustained recovery. Suboxone is considered to be a safer and more accessible alternative to methadone.
How Does Suboxone Abuse Happen?
One of the inherent risks of prescribing Suboxone for recovering opioid addicts is its similarity to the drug of abuse. Some recovering addicts wind up abusing the Suboxone, usually by dissolving the film in water and injecting it. This is dangerous as by injecting it the drug bypasses the digestive system, neutralizing the naloxone. In 2010 over 30,000 emergency room visits were attributed to Suboxone abuse, according to the National Pain Report.
The habit-forming properties of Suboxone may cause recovering addicts to begin abusing the replacement drug. They may place several film strips under the tongue at once in order to experience a high. Even if Suboxone is not abused, it could become just another lifelong drug addiction if the individual is unable to discontinue using it at some point.
Suboxone Withdrawal and the Medical Detox
A controlled, supervised Suboxone detoxification is the first step of treatment. During a medical detox, healthcare professionals will monitor Suboxone withdrawal symptoms and provide the necessary support to safely guide the individual through the detox and withdrawal process.
When Suboxone is discontinued withdrawal symptoms will ensue, just as with any other addictive substance. While the person was taking Suboxone their brain adapted to the daily dosing, so brain chemistry destabilizes when the drug is suddenly withheld.
Suboxone withdrawal symptoms include:
- Stomach cramps
- Muscle and joint aches
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Irregular heart rate
- Dilated pupils
- Fuzzy thinking
- Drug cravings
Without medical support during detox, the Suboxone withdrawal symptoms are so unpleasant that the individual is likely to give up on detox and return to the drug. The medical detox staff will help the individual get through the 1-2 week detox process and safely transition them to treatment.
Treatment for Suboxone Addiction
Even though the individual addicted to Suboxone has already been through a rehab program, it is important that they revisit the therapies that can help them improve their recovery outcomes this time around. Rehab can be either an outpatient or an inpatient program. The outpatient program will allow more flexibility in scheduling and is a less expensive treatment option. This is because the individual will reside off-campus outside of treatment hours. The inpatient program is more intensive, with 24-hour oversight and support.
While in treatment for Suboxone addiction, the individual will participate in a wide range of therapeutic activities. These include:
- Group therapy
- Addiction counseling and education
- Relapse prevention
- Medication management
- Holistic activities
- Recreational activities
- Nutritional counseling
- Family counseling
Solidifying Opioid Recovery
There are strategies that can assist an individual in reinforcing recovery success following rehab. Possibly the individual switches to a monitored methadone program. Methadone is another opioid replacement drug that is strictly controlled to reduce the potential for abuse.
Sober living is an excellent post-rehab option for helping to shore up recovery. The sober living environment allows for a drug and alcohol-free living space where regular drug testing provides a deterrent to relapse. Sober living also allows time to transition gradually back to regular life, and offers the opportunity to establish new healthy routines, develop new sober friendships, to be accountable to others, and to practice the recovery skills taught in rehab.
Active participation in a recovery community is also protective in recovery. These groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous or SMART Recovery, provide the important social support so essential in early recovery. The meetings offer opportunities to develop a sober lifestyle, receive and give peer support, and participation in volunteer activities.
Solutions 4 Recovery Offers Comprehensive Suboxone Addiction Treatment
Solutions 4 Recovery is a leading Orange County dual diagnosis and addiction treatment center that treats Suboxone addiction. Individuals who have found themselves addicted to Suboxone can rest assured that they will be treated with dignity and respect at Solutions 4 Recovery. Our mission is to provide stellar recovery treatment while exploring new solutions for managing opioid recovery. Our team will design a tailored plan that is customized for each client’s unique set of circumstances and recovery goals. Using an integrated approach featuring evidence-based therapies, holistic therapies, and medication management, Solutions 4 Recovery offers the most effective recovery strategies available. For more details about our program, please contact Solutions 4 Recovery today at (888) 417-1874.