Did you know that opiate addiction isn’t limited to the use of heroin? Abusing prescription pain relievers that contain morphine or its derivatives can cause opiate addiction as well. Fortunately, there are a number of treatment approaches available for addressing opiate abuse.
For decades since it was introduced to the public in 1947, methadone became the go-to drug for both relieving opioid cravings and mitigating withdrawal symptoms. However, the approval of Suboxone by the FDA in 2002 has dramatically changed that, as the latter has shown to be equally—if not, more—effective. Suboxone has been touted by experts for its ceiling effect, which signifies a lower overdose potential. This means that once the therapeutic limit of Suboxone is reached, increases in its doses will no longer yield euphoric effect—and only potential side effects.
Let’s get a good understanding of what Suboxone therapy is and why it has been widely considered as an integral component in the treatment plan for opiate addiction.
How Suboxone Works
Suboxone therapy is a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) that is typically given in conjunction with counseling and/or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to optimize opiate addiction recovery outcomes.
Suboxone has two active ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone. Suboxone is administered in a number of ways. It can be used sublingually (under the tongue), orally (placed between the gum and the cheek, intravenously, and via the transdermal route (as a skin patch). Each Suboxone sublingual tablet contains 8 mg buprenorphine (as hydrochloride) and 2 mg naloxone (as hydrochloride dihydrate).
Buprenorphine, which is a partial mu-opioid receptor agonist, is unlike the commonly abused opiates—which are full agonists. Buprenorphine has high affinity but half the efficacy of full agonists, which means it still tightly binds to and activates the same opioid receptors in the brain. The drug’s high affinity enables it to block other opioids from attaching to the brain’s opioid receptors, thereby both satisfying and reducing your craving for opiates while mitigating the withdrawal effects.
Naloxone also binds to opioid receptors in the brain and prevents other opioids from attaching to them. The differences between buprenorphine and naloxone are that the latter doesn’t activate opioid receptors. The combination of the two ingredients proves highly beneficial for thwarting the withdrawal symptoms associated with an opiate addiction.
Suboxone Therapy Benefits
Suboxone is used as an adjunctive therapy and—when incorporated into a comprehensive recovery plan—shows a modest success rate. Research indicates that approximately 60 percent of participants showed a reduced prescription painkiller abuse during a 12-week Suboxone treatment. This, on top of the drug’s low overdose potential and affordability, has made it an increasingly popular option for counteracting and reversing opiate addiction.
Moreover, since Suboxone is a depressant drug in itself, it slows you down—in contrast to a stimulant’s mechanism of action, which makes you energetic and, at times, paranoid. It also promotes calmness and relaxation and reduces anxiety or stress levels.
Suboxone Therapy in New York and Connecticut
If you or someone you know is dependent on or abusing opiates, talk to us here at Psy Visions. Dr. Mark Stracks offers counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, and suboxone therapy to address opiate misuse.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Stracks, you may fill out our secure online form or call us at (203) 405-1745. We also offer telepsychiatry services to provide continuity of care for patients struggling with mental health conditions and addiction and to limit the number of in-office visits during the COVID-19 pandemic.