Many people are curious about Suboxone and similar treatment methods. Suboxone is used for safe and comfortable detoxification from opioids and opiates (prescription pain medications, heroin). Subutex and Suboxone treat opiate addiction by preventing symptoms of withdrawal from heroin and other opiates.
Suboxone (buprenorphine hydrochloride and naloxone hydrochloride) and Subutex (buprenorphine hydrochloride) are approved for the treatment of opiate dependence.
Dr. A.R. Mohammad, the founder of Inspire Malibu, is considered to be one of the leading authorities on opiate detox and withdrawal and was the first doctor in the state of California, to be licensed to use Suboxone.
Managed Maintenance is a proven success program that restores health, life and hope to those unique individuals who, because of either systemic or acquired medical conditions, have become completely dependent on opiates.
Patients with ten to fifteen year addiction histories with medical conditions such as Hepatitis C, HIV, heart problems, and/or psychiatric complications are considered special cases. These are not the norm, but not being a “normal addict” is no reason to be denied effective life saving, health restoring treatment.
Without Managed Maintenance, 80% of these extreme cases immediately fall right back into dangerous addiction.
The FDA approved Suboxone as a proper and effective way to replace dangerous and illegal substances. Suboxone, used in detox, keeps patients from experiencing life threatening, debilitating withdrawal, and allows them to remain physically stable.
Suboxone is a prescription medicine that is used to treat adults who are addicted (dependent) on opioid drugs (prescription or illegal), as part of a complete treatment program that also includes counseling and behavioral therapy.
Suboxone is a controlled substance (CIII) because it contains Buprenorphine, which can be a target for people who abuse prescription medicines or street drugs.
Suboxone should always be kept in a safe place to protect it from theft. It should never be given to anyone other than who it is prescribed, as it may be harmful or fatal if not used properly. Selling or giving away Suboxone is against the law. Suboxone is not for occasional or “as needed” use.
Buprenorphine Hydrochloride and Naloxone Hydrochloride are the active ingredients in Suboxone.
Suboxone is only available by prescription, and administered by a physician. Suboxone comes in tablet form, and easily dissolves under the tongue. It is known as an “opioid partial agonist.”
Opiate partial agonists are similar to opiates such as Heroin, Vicodin, or Methadone, except Suboxone gives the brain what it desires without the dangers associated with full opiated drugs.
An easy way to understand the use of Suboxone in Managed Maintenance is to think of training wheels on a bicycle. Training wheels provide physical balance while promoting personal assurance and confidence during the learning process.
In time, the rider balances independently, just as when Suboxone is used correctly it helps the patient weaken the grip that heroin holds over them until they reach the point in which they don’t need Suboxone at all to prevent returning to old habits.
The other active ingredient, Naloxone, is not an opioid and is in fact often used to reverse the effects of opiates in emergency overdose situations. It’s used in Suboxone to prevent misuse and protect the patient from the possibility of overdosing.
Physicians do tests before a patient begins taking Suboxone to ensure that the drug is not doing more harm than good, and these tests continue as long as the patient continues taking the prescribed drug.
Patients taking Suboxone have a higher risk of death and coma if combined with other medications that utilize benzodiazepines. Various side effects such as respiratory problems, sleepiness, dizziness, and problems with coordination have also been recorded.
Dependency or abuse can cause liver problems such as yellowish skin or the white part of patient’s eyes turning yellow (jaundice), dark-colored urine, light-colored stools, a decrease in appetite, or nausea with stomach and abdominal pain. Call a doctor immediately if any of these symptoms are present.
Some patients may experience an allergic reaction and have a rash, hives, facial swelling, wheezing, lowered blood pressure, and loss of consciousness.
As we’ve already stated, Suboxone does contain Buprenorphine, which is an opiate. As such, this drug used to treat heroin withdrawal can present its own withdrawal symptoms when the patient stops using it.
Suboxone withdrawal symptoms can include any of the following:
Contact a doctor immediately if any of these symptoms develop.
For the extreme opiate dependent patient, the managed use of Suboxone makes it possible for them to acquire the life skills and personal balance to ride “the bike of life” without crashing. It is rewarding and wonderful to see the transformation of opiate addicts into healthy, happy, stable individuals free from cravings, illegal drugs, and life threatening behavior.
How long a medication should be administered is best determined by the treating physician in consultation with the individual patient. Whether or not a patient should continue taking medication for their condition and what medication would be most effective is determined in a case by case basis by a physician.
As patients internalize and integrate the therapeutic tools given them, the patients recognize the “right time” to taper off the use of Suboxone until it is completely discontinued.
Suboxone and Buprenorphine have a stellar reputation among addiction specialists for its ability to help patients kick heroin addiction, mainly because it’s a much safer alternative to the drug that’s most commonly associated with heroin treatment, methadone. Because of this, it’s important to get feedback from suboxone doctors and those who treat patients with buprenorphine.
“Suboxone regularly allows individuals to return to improved social functioning. Patients return to work, to their families, and to school. Some are able to discontinue medication and continue functioning well.”
– Davd A. Moltz, MD, arguing against a proposal to limit MaineCare reimbursements for Suboxone
“Medications such as buprenorphine combined with naloxone have been found to be safe and efficacious as a treatment for opiate dependence in the studies done to date. In research settings, buprenorphine products have been found to be medications that will be well tolerated by addicts and have low value and desirability for sale on the street.”
– Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D., in testimony given before the House Subcommittee on Health and Environment in 1999
“Buprenorphine is safer than methadone; therefore less monitoring is needed.”
– Adam Bisaga, MD, in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce
In the 1980’s Reckitt Benckiser, a British health products company, debuted a new drug called Suboxone. It was initially marketed as a pain reliever, as it was proven to be even more effective than morphine.
The unique thing about Suboxone is that while it has a similar chemical structure and produces similar pain-relieving effects on the brain as morphine and heroin, it has much less recreational potential as opposed to the intense euphoric effects of heroin and other prescription opiates, which means it has much less abuse potential as well.
At the same time, across the pond in the United States a drug called methadone was commonly used to help heroin addicts manage withdrawal symptoms, as it had been since the 1960’s. Methadone produces euphoric effects when taken in high doses, which leads to a “from the frying pan into the fire” situation in which recovering heroin addicts manage to quit heroin but become addicted to methadone. And since addicts have to take large doses to achieve euphoria, methadone produces a lot of overdose deaths.
There are not nearly enough addiction treatment centers to help all patients seeking medication-assisted opiate dependence treatments. This was especially true when methadone was the only option, as methadone can only be dispensed in a limited number of clinics that specialize in addiction treatment.
Recovering addicts in the United States now have more options than methadone, though.
In 2000, the Drug Abuse Treatment Act (DATA) passed into law. This piece of legislation allowed drugs that were previously only accessible through in-patient treatment centers available by a prescription at a doctor’s office. In 2002, Subutex and Suboxone became the first narcotic drugs available under DATA when it was approved by the FDA for heroin addiction treatment. This change provided more patients the opportunity to access the tools they need to overcome heroin addiction.
The more newly-approved medication Zubsolv is a prescription opioid maintenance drug similar to Suboxone, also used to help reduce the opioid cravings that often distract people in the recovery process from working through their addiction.
Suboxone and Subutex are all as effective as methadone, and they have less health risks and cause fewer deaths as well.
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