What is Suboxone used for? Physicians prescribe Suboxone to treat individuals who are going through the opioid detox process. Suboxone works by reducing the severity of opioid withdrawal symptoms. By mitigating cravings and deintensifying the physical and mental pains associated with withdrawal, Suboxone can make it easier to commit to the detox process.
Suboxone alone, however, is rarely considered a solution for long-term sobriety. Rather, it is used to supplement other treatment modalities as part of a comprehensive medication-assisted treatment (MAT) plan. These other treatment modalities range from psychotherapy to support groups.
Normally individuals going through opioid withdrawal find it difficult to be receptive to these other forms of treatment, given the intensity of their symptoms. Suboxone makes it possible to withdraw from opioids in a pre-planned way, allowing recovering addicts to develop strong foundations in sobriety beforehand.
Suboxone contains a mixture of two drugs: buprenorphine and naloxone. What is buprenorphine? Buprenorphine is the active agent in the medication. It works by activating opioid receptors, thereby satisfying the needs of physically dependent opioid users, but it does so without causing a notable high. Naloxone is included in Suboxone to prevent abuse.
When Suboxone is taken as prescribed, naloxone has an insignificant effect. However, when users alter their medication and try to inject Suboxone, rather than experiencing a Suboxone high from the buprenorphine, they go into immediate withdrawal due to the presence of naloxone. While it is possible to misuse Suboxone, the nature of the drug makes this inherently difficult.
Suboxone Films Vs Suboxone Pills
Suboxone is available under many different names, including generic formulations known simply as buprenorphine/naloxone. The drug can be taken primarily using two different routes of administration: via Suboxone film or via Suboxone pills. While both types of Suboxone contain the same drug, the different routes of administration offer somewhat different effects and risk profiles.
Comparative studies have found that Suboxone strips and Suboxone tablets have similar rates of effectiveness for treating opioid use disorder. Determining which route of administration is right for you is ultimately between you and your medical provider, but understanding the pros and cons of each is an important initial step,
Suboxone film, sometimes known as Suboxone strips, is a sublingual formulation of Suboxone. But how to take suboxone films? Users place a Suboxone strip against the inside of their cheek or under the tongue. Sometimes individuals are given a dose of multiple strips, in which case they are told to place a strip on the opposite cheek so that the two do not overlap.
The Suboxone strips are designed to dissolve in the mouth and are absorbed through the lining of the cheeks, tongue, and gums. Suboxone film has a rapid onset, and individuals taking the medication as prescribed experience relief from opioid withdrawal symptoms quickly.
Suboxone film has a number of side effects that are unique to this route of administration. Common Suboxone film side effects include:
- Tongue pain
- Decreased sensation and redness in the mouth
- Gastrointestinal problems, including nausea, vomiting, and constipation
- Excessive sweating
- Sleeping difficulties
- Swelling of the extremities
During the initial phase of Suboxone treatment, it is also common for individuals to experience symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Continued supervised Suboxone treatment is likely to reduce the severity of these symptoms over time. During the maintenance stage of Suboxone treatment, symptoms may all but disappear.
Suboxone pills, sometimes known as Suboxone tablets, are the other primary route of administration for buprenorphine/naloxone. But how to take suboxone pills? The Suboxone pill, like the film, is a sublingual formulation that is designed to be dissolved in the mouth. The choice between Suboxone strips and the Suboxone pill is a matter of preference for most patients.
Suboxone pills are somewhat more challenging to alter when an individual is tapering, given that Suboxone strips can be easily cut. Some individuals, however, prefer the taste of Suboxone pills. Others find the innocuous nature of the pills to be more discreet than the film formulation, which tends to stand out among other medications. The Suboxone tablet also offers its unique side effect profile. Common side effects of Suboxone pills include:
- Bone and muscle pain
- Increased sweating
- Low blood pressure
As with Suboxone strips, individuals taking Suboxone pills generally experience opioid withdrawal symptoms to some degree when they first begin taking the medication. These symptoms generally dissipate during the maintenance stage of Suboxone treatment.
About Suboxone Treatment
If you or a loved one is suffering from opioid addiction, Suboxone treatment may be right for you. Unlike methadone, another common drug for opioid replacement therapy, Suboxone can be prescribed on an outpatient basis by a licensed physician. Discussing your needs and preferences with a physician is the best way to determine which route of administration is right for you.
It is important, however, to pursue other treatment modalities during Suboxone treatment. Beginning a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) plan at an outpatient treatment center is the best way to guarantee not only an easy opioid detox, but long-term sobriety in the years following withdrawal. Ready to take the first step in the right direction? Get in touch with us today!