Opioid addiction continues to grow throughout the country, tearing families apart in its wake. Virtually every city and suburb of the United States has been affected by this scourge. Addiction to illicit and prescription opioids has been described as a public health emergency that is negatively impacting our economic and social welfare.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 130 people in the United States die as a result of an opioid overdose every single day. Commonly abused opioids include prescription painkillers, heroin, and a synthetic opioid which is known as fentanyl. Each year, a growing number of people become dependent on the use of opioids for non-medical purposes.
The World Health Organization (WHO) projects that over 15 million people are directly affected by opioid use disorder. This recent scourge cuts across people of all ages and walks of life, regardless of your age, gender, or sexual orientation.
Estimates by the CDC place the total economic burden of prescription opioid abuse in the U.S to be $78.5 billion yearly. This figure includes the cost of seeking healthcare, lost productivity, criminal litigations, and addiction treatment.
How Did We Get There?
The current opioid epidemic has its roots in the late 1990s when large pharmaceutical companies assured the medical community that prescription opioids used as pain relievers were safe and bear no risks of addiction.
With this reassurance in mind, physicians began prescribing them at an increasing rate. This led to widespread abuse and dependence before it became obvious that these opioid-based medications carry a high risk of addiction.
The Opioid Epidemic at a Glance
In 2017, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provided the following grim statistics on the opioid epidemic in the United States:
- Over 130 people die each day as a result of opioid-related drug overdoses
- More than 11.4 million people misuse prescription opioids
- About 47,600 people died as a result of opioid overdoses
- An estimated 2.1 million people suffered from opioid use disorder
- The number of heroin users was estimated to be over 886,000
- 15,482 deaths were attributed to heroin overdose
- Death due to overdosing on synthetic opioids other than methadone was 28,466
Can Opioid Dependence Be Treated With Suboxone?
Addiction to any kind of opioid can be treated with the right approach. Several medication-assisted approach are available for treating addiction to common opioids such as heroin and fentanyl. The Food and Drug Administration recognizes three medications as effective for the management of opioid addiction or dependence as the case may be.
The three FDA-approved medications used for treating opioid dependence are:
- Buprenorphine (Suboxone)
All of these medications have been proven to be both effective and safe in treating opioid dependence. When combined with counseling and psychological support (referred to as Medically-Assisted Treatment, MAT) they can assist individuals with opioid use disorder to sustain their recovery. To be effective, however, buprenorphine must be administered at the right dosage. Typically, a personalized dose of between 4mg and 16mg is recommended and is decided by a physician.
A number of FDA-approved buprenorphine products are available for the treatment of opioid dependence. They include:
- Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone): Presented as a sublingual film
- Subutex (buprenorphine and naloxone): Presented as sublingual film or tablet
- Zubsolv (buprenorphine and naloxone): Presented as sublingual tablets
- Bunavail (buprenorphine and naloxone): Presented as a buccal film
- Cassipa (buprenorphine and naloxone): Presented as a sublingual film
- Probuphine (buprenorphine): Presented as an implant for subdermal administration
If you’re interested in medication-assisted treatment, then Suboxone is not the only choice. Being informed about the options available to you will make the recovery process easier.
What Is Suboxone?
Suboxone film is a prescription medication used for treating adults with opioid use disorder. It is formulated from a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone as active ingredients. If you or a loved one are interested in an addiction treatment program that offers medically-assisted treatment, your therapy will likely include treatment with Suboxone, behavioral therapy, and counseling sessions.
Chronic addiction to any type of opioid drug can be difficult to break. This is because the brain has become accustomed to the euphoric effects produced by taking large and unsafe quantities of these medications.
To help addicts combat their chemical dependence, addiction specialists normally prescribe Suboxone to help with painful withdrawal symptoms. Buprenorphine, when administered, acts as a partial opioid antagonist. Once in the bloodstream, it binds with the brain’s opioid receptors, shutting out the effect of any other opioid medication that may have been ingested.
Similarly, naloxone has been shown to be a potent opioid antagonist. In the event that an opioid addict attempts to crush and snort (or inject) Suboxone tablets, the naloxone present will block the brain’s opioid receptors, making it impossible for the user to experiencing any “high” from the snorted Suboxone.
Suboxone has been demonstrated as effective in combating opioid dependence. Generally, Suboxone has been an effective option because it carries a lower potential for misuse, its ease of access, as well as the high success rate recorded in its use for treating opioid dependence. It should be noted that Suboxone is not a cure for opioid addiction, rather it is administered as a form of medication-assisted treatment.
Like most opioid medications, Suboxone use comes with some adverse side effects. Some of the health risks associated with Suboxone use include:
- The potential for abuse or dependency: Suboxone use can lead to dependency or addiction just like other illicit and prescription opioids.
- Respiratory issues: Concurrently taking Suboxone with other medications such as benzodiazepines puts you at a higher risk of coma or even death
- Dizziness and Impairment: Suboxone use can lead to dizziness and loss of coordination
- Liver problem: Notify your primary healthcare physician right away if you observe any signs of liver infection.
- Opioid withdrawal symptoms: The use of Suboxone can trigger some opioid withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, profuse sweating, nausea, vomiting, runny nose, and muscle aches. It is wise to alert your physician should you experience any of these.
- Decreased blood pressure: Suboxone use can result in lowered blood pressure, causing dizziness when you attempt to stand up quickly from a sitting or lying position.
There is abundant evidence pointing to the effectiveness of medications such as Suboxone in the treatment of opioid use disorder. Studies by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) shows that these medications help reduce the intensity of opioid withdrawal symptoms, making it easy for sufferers to remain in recovery.
If you or someone you love is currently suffering from opioid dependence and want to detox safely, then call our addiction helpline right away. We are available round-the-clock to plan your detoxification program and make it as painless as possible. Get in touch with us to receive the help needed to break free from opioid dependence.