- in Main
Suboxone is commonly known as a detox medication, intended to reduce the discomforts associated with withdrawal from heroin and other opioids of abuse. Many believe that this is Suboxone’s primary use. However, this is a common fallacy. One that is spoken often. Although Suboxone is widely used as a detoxification aid, that’s not actually it’s most functional purpose. In fact, according to the American Medical Association, Suboxone is best used as a long-term treatment for opioid addiction recovery.
How Opioids Change Brain Chemistry
If you or someone you love is suffering opioid addiction, you’re probably aware that addiction causes changes in the brain. Opioids create a physical dependency in conjunction with a psychological obsession, making them especially difficult to stop using. Drugs like heroin and prescription pain pills attach onto our natural brain receptors, which are integral to many bodily functions such as our pain and pleasure responses Normally, our brain creates natural opioids, but when we become adapted to external opioid drugs, our bodies stop producing them, leading to a multitude of issues that manifest themselves as acute withdrawal. Replacement medications correct some of those changes, helping the brain reset after addiction.
Methadone vs. Suboxone
Methadone was once the standard opioid replacement therapy for decades, but Suboxone has gained popularity in the past few years. Because it is a partial-opioid agonist, rather than a full agonist like methadone, it is less likely to cause tiredness and will be easier to taper from. Some rehab facilities taper patients from heroin or other short-acting opioids using decreasing doses of Suboxone. Therefore, Suboxone is known as a detox medication.
Patients who use Suboxone for six months or longer tend to have better outcomes than patients who use it only for detoxification. While recovery after detox is thought to have a relapse rate that can approach 90%, up to 70% of patients in Suboxone maintenance programs for a year or more will remain in treatment.
Many of the studies measuring the efficacy of Suboxone for long term use mention a need for additional psychotherapy treatment. Addiction is considered a chronic relapsing brain illness. Of course, many who contest that definition still recognize that it is at least a mental condition. That said, addiction likely has a genetic element, and it causes changes in the brain. But environmental influences also play a role. At the very least, an opioid addiction will never be generated in a body that has never been presented to opioids.
If abused, Suboxone can provide a mild high. Not the same as heroin or other opioids, but most addicts will think that something is better than nothing. Therefore, medical supervision is critical for positive long-term treatment. Some recovering addicts may sell their Suboxone in exchange for heroin. However, this is decision-making made by an individual. Individuals who are committed to their recovery will use their Suboxone as directed. Relapse may still happen, but it is a lot lower!
Something's Got to Give
More people are dying from overdose death than ever before. Every year overdose deaths continue to surpass the number of American casualties of the entire Vietnam War (That’s over 65,000 people annually). The American Medical Association advises the long-term use of Suboxone, in conjunction with therapy. And, we know the longer people stay in treatment addiction, the better their outcome will be.
About the Author
Matthew Koenig is a freelance writer and principal of Last Call Marketing which devotes their efforts to Digital Marketing, SEO and Social Engagement. Focused on healthcare and tourism concerns, Mr. Koenig is based out of South Florida. His sober date is June 10, 2013.