With the opioid epidemic on the rise across the United States, experts have been scrambling for a solution to the problem. One solution that has been brought to market is that of Suboxone, a drug intended to treat adults with opioid addiction or dependency. Many medications that are intended to treat addiction can be addictive themselves, Suboxone included. It is important to understand the risks associated with any addiction treatment regimens, especially when the treatment itself can pose a risk for addiction.
What Is Suboxone?
Suboxone is a fairly new drug to the addiction treatment market. Intended to treat all types of opioid addiction in adults, Suboxone is actually a combination of two different types of drugs; buprenorphine and naloxone. Often prescribed for pain control, buprenorphine is a type of opioid medication, while naloxone is prescribed to actually block the effects of opioids.
This combination of buprenorphine and naloxone may sound contradictory, but when you break down the chemistry of both drugs this contradiction makes sense. Buprenorphine is categorized as an agonist, while naloxone is in an opposite category known as an antagonist. Together, this drug combination can help an individual who is addicted to opioids cope with symptoms of withdrawal and cravings.
As a partial agonist, buprenorphine activates only some of the opioid receptors in the brain. Other opioids, such as codeine, activate almost all of the opioid receptors in the brain, making for a much stronger effect. On the opposite side of the ring, naloxone is actually an antagonist that blocks opioid receptors by sticking to them without activating them. Naloxone on its own is a common drug used by emergency medical respondents to reverse potentially lethally overdoses on drugs such as heroin.
Taking an opioid while trying to recover from opioid addiction may sound a bit counterproductive, but the chemistry behind it makes sense. Despite being a partial agonist, buprenorphine is also a partial antagonist which means that it can also attach to opioid receptors in the brain and block other full agonist opioids from reaching them.
With buprenorphine and naloxone working together to block full agonist opioids from being received by opioid receptors, the buprenorphine still produces a slight opioid effect on the individual. This less significant effect helps with opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms without presenting as many of the depressant dangers of full agonist opioids.
How Can A Drug Intended To Treat Addiction Still Be Dangerous?
You may be thinking that it is disadvantageous to create a drug to treat addiction that is still addictive, but your body reacts to different chemicals in different ways – even if they may present some of the same dangers. Chemical dependency on any substance is a difficult state to recover from, as it can change the chemical balance within your body.
Opioid addiction is caused by the brain’s natural reward system that causes you to repeat actions that it believes are beneficial to your survival. Because opioids cause the same feelings of euphoria and pleasure that other instinctive actions, such as procreation, may cause, the brain interprets this as a benefit and will naturally crave more of the substance that initiated that cycle.
Opioid addiction is extremely difficult to overcome without professional rehabilitation or medical detox. The reason for this is the extreme and dangerous nature of the withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid addiction. In order to help make the withdrawal more comfortable, Suboxone gives a partial dose of opioids which can help to calm these symptoms without delivering a full dose of opioids.
The issue lies in the fact that any opioid holds the risk for addiction, no matter how small the dose is. Suboxone carries this risk, and although it is not as addictive as some of the more potent opioids such as fentanyl, it still carries the potential for dependence.
Negative Effects of Suboxone Use
All opioids carry a long list of side effects, even without considering the high risk for addiction or dependency. These side effects vary from mild to severe, and may vary depending on the individual. Interactions with other drugs or medications could also greatly affect severity of these side effects. Short-term, or immediate, side effects of Suboxone include:
- Numbness or tingling in extremities
- Drowsiness and difficulty staying awake
- Numbness in your mouth
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty focusing
- Poor motor skills (similar to a feeling of drunkenness)
As with many prescription medications, these side effects can become worse as use of the medication is continued. For opioids in particular, it is not uncommon for an individual to build up a tolerance to the drug in a short amount of time. A tolerance to opioids means the opioid receptors in your brain have become used to the level of opioids in your system and adapt to the change by making it the new norm. The result of this is withdrawal symptoms (if consumption of the drug is stopped) and increased doses to create the same effect as previous doses.
With this tolerance generally comes increased or more frequent consumption of the drug, which can lead to serious long-term effects down the road. These long-term effects can include:
- Decreased respiration/difficulty breathing
- Decreased circulation
Get Help Today
When used as prescribed, Suboxone can be a beneficial drug to treat individuals suffering from opioid addiction. Suboxone can, however, still pose a high risk for addiction itself. If you or a loved one struggles with addiction to Suboxone or other opioids, seeking out professional help is your first step towards recovery.
Our addiction treatment specialists are standing by to take your call and answer any questions you have regarding a custom treatment plan for yourself or for a loved one. Your call is always confidential, and our specialists are available to talk 24/7. Get the information you need to make the best decision for your recovery, call our specialists today.
For More Information Related to “Negative Effects of Suboxone” Be Sure To Check Out These Additional Resources From DrugRehab.org:
- Using Naltrexone To Treat Opioid Addiction
- Long-Term Effects Of Taking Methadone
- What Helps With Heroin Withdrawal?
- Is Tramadol An Opioid Analgesic?
- The Most Commonly Abused Opiates
Addiction Science & Clinical Practice (NCBI) – Practical Considerations for the Clinical Use of Buprenorphine
Drugs.com – Suboxone
Suboxone.com – What is Suboxone Film?