Opiate addiction in the United States is rapidly approaching epidemic proportions, and curbing the rapidly escalating numbers is a top concern for medical professionals, addiction specialists and government agencies. However, some commonly used approaches to detoxing individuals from opiates present serious risks themselves. This is particularly true of Suboxone, a substitute opiate often used to wean addicted individuals off of other opiates. While Suboxone is an effective treatment method for some, when it is not prescribed and regulated properly, it can do more harm than good. In fact, many individuals who seek treatment for heroin or abuse of other opiates end up suffering from Suboxone addiction due to its habit-forming properties.
Suboxone as an Opiate Addiction Treatment
Suboxone was first released in 2002 as an opiate addiction treatment method for those who were addicted to heroin or other opiate-based prescription drugs. Suboxone contains a combination of an opiate antagonist, called Naloxone, and an opioid medication, called buprenorphine. Naloxone works to reverse the effects of the illegal opiates while the buprenorphine activates opioid receptors to eliminate painful withdrawal symptoms. Suboxone helps individuals achieve a greater sense of normalcy while attempting to detox as well as decreases the incidence of risky behavior associated with illegal drug use.
The Progression of a Suboxone Addiction
Suboxone usually consists of a single daily dose that is prescribed in a drug treatment program or a by a licensed physician. While the drug does indeed help mitigate withdrawal for patents, it often begins to have undesirable effects. Suboxone has a long life and is extremely potent. Thus, patients who take it for even a short period, often experience withdrawal symptoms. Its longer lifespan also means that the symptoms can last longer than those of the original opiate they were addicted to. Additionally, some drug rehab facilities administer Suboxone to patients while they are at their facility to keep them comfortable. However, a problem arises when they discontinue the daily dose a few days before the patient leaves the facility. This causes withdrawal to begin just as the patient arrives home. At that point, patients no longer have the professional assistance needed to overcome the suboxone withdrawal that can last for weeks. This situation greatly increases the chances of an immediate relapse.
Patient Education is Key
Though administering Suboxone in rehab settings is extremely common, many clinics and facilities do not properly inform patients that they are taking an opiate substitute. In fact, many never know that they are still taking an opiate until they try to stop using Suboxone and are unable to stand the withdrawal symptoms. Many who become addicted to Suboxone state that they wish they have never started using it because it is much harder to come off of it than the drug they originally took. Many patients say that they feel betrayed by the doctor or drug rehab facility that prescribed Suboxone. Some use the analogy of coming in for an addiction to wine or beer and leaving with an addiction to whiskey. In other words, the quantifiable amount of the substance that they ingest is less, but the concentrated amount is far stronger, which leads to a stronger addiction.
Suboxone Treatment Benefits
Suboxone could be an effective opiate addiction treatment when a patient is at risk and when proper assessments, prescribing and monitoring are followed. However, it is overprescribed and has become one the top three drugs that most patients contact us for seeking medical assistance or rapid detox. Safety administering a Suboxone treatment protocol, requires a thorough patient assessment and an understating of the drug’s side effects and addictive properties to determine if a patient is a good fit for the drug. A proper treatment plan must also include when to stop taking the drug and clearly inform the patient of what they are taking.
The Waismann Method Detox Center offers several advanced detox methods for those suffering with Suboxone addiction. Both rapid opiate detox and modified medical detox protocols are performed in an accredited, full-service hospital. Additionally, patients receive a thorough medical assessment and an individualized treatment plan to ensure that the treatment approach is appropriate for their unique physical and psychological needs.