There is no question, Suboxone has helped thousands of people who were addicted to opioids. The treatment makes sense: provide a mixed opioid agonist (buprenorphine) with an opioid antagonist (naloxone) to help curb cravings, fight withdrawal symptoms, and discourage misuse by injection. Instead of getting “high” on drugs like fentanyl or heroin, people use Suboxone to stay even and to keep from getting sick. While Suboxone has been touted as a miracle drug for treating opioid addiction and works well for many people, some people find themselves trading one problem for another. Suboxone can be harmful, even deadly.
Eric Wish, the director of the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland, states that even though he has been studying the public health effects of drug use for over 30 years, Suboxone “is the first drug that nobody seems to want to know about as a potential problem.”
Can You Get Addicted to Suboxone?
The opioid in Suboxone, buprenorphine, is a mixed agonist, which means that by itself it is a fairly mild opioid. Because it is an opioid, regular use creates dependence and many people will tell you that when they try to stop they go into full blown opioid withdrawal. Suboxone also has naloxone, which is to discourage injection. If an opioid dependent person injects Suboxone, the presence of the naloxone will precipitate immediate withdrawal. If the Suboxone is not injected, the naloxone remains inactive. Suboxone is four parts buprenorphine, one part naloxone. There is a lot of misinformation about Suboxone, including the assumption that it is not addictive and does not cause a “high.” But some people are getting high on Suboxone. And regular users do become physically dependent on it.
Deborah Sontag writes in the New York Times about how recreational users get a potent, long-lasting buzz from Suboxone. People in prison smuggle in dissolvable filmstrips of Suboxone and pass it around as “prison heroin.” As anyone who has struggled with opioid addiction can tell you, it all depends on the dose you take and what your body is used to taking. People who have experience with considerable amounts of opioids are probably not going to get high from standard doses of Suboxone. However, if someone goes from being completely clean (opioid-free) to taking Suboxone, they can get a high. Experienced opioid users have also reported getting a euphoric feeling from Suboxone at higher doses.
Even people who have used Suboxone as it was intended may find themselves at a point where they want to try life without it. But it’s difficult to figure out how to stop and the fear of a protracted and miserable withdrawal is a deterrent.
Can You Overdose on Suboxone?
Officials became concerned when they started seeing evidence of Suboxone at the scenes of opioid overdose or in the blood of opioid overdose victims. It is not clear whether people are overdosing on Suboxone alone or if Suboxone is just one of the opioids in the victim’s system. Buprenorphine works by filling the opioid receptor and thus creating a block, which prevents other opioids from affecting the individual. Some people, hoping to overcome the block, will take excessive amounts of other opioids such as fentanyl, heroin, or oxycodone, putting them at risk for overdose.
How Do I Get off Suboxone?
Getting off Suboxone is much like getting off any other opioid; medically supervised rapid detox is the best approach. In Suboxone rapid detox, physicians and addiction specialists help the patient make the transition from opioid dependence to opioid freedom. Just as the body grew accustomed to using Suboxone, during Suboxone rapid detox, the body grows accustomed to being opioid-free. While this process sounds simple, it can be challenging and even dangerous if not performed under the close supervision of physicians and specialists trained in Suboxone rapid detox. When performed in a full service hospital, anesthesia assisted rapid detox is an extremely effective way of getting off Suboxone.
If you are interested in getting off Suboxone or simply worried that you may be misusing a buprenorphine based drug or any other opioids, call the specialists at the Waismann Method®. The Waismann Method® Rapid Detox Center is a world-renowned addiction treatment center that applies anesthesia-assisted, medically supervised rapid detox from Suboxone and other opioids and substances of abuse. With the Waismann Method®, there really is a chance to be opioid-free—even from Suboxone.