Getting Off Suboxone
In an effort to get off dangerous opioid drugs like heroin or prescription painkillers, weaning techniques can be used. Prescription medications like Suboxone can be one tool to aid in the ending of a dangerous addiction. Unfortunately, however, it also creates the potential for a secondary addiction. It is just as important to learn how patients can begin getting off Suboxone in order to live their lives free from all addiction.
Understanding the Addictive Nature of Suboxone
Suboxone is a prescription medication with two primary ingredients: Buprenorphine and naloxone. The first ingredient, buprenorphine, is a synthetic opiate substance. On its own, it would be a potent drug similar to many prescription painkillers used for medical or recreational purposes.
The second ingredient in Suboxone is naloxone. This is a substance that essentially reverses the effects of the opiate ingredients. Naloxone is a vital component of Suboxone because it ensures that the users won’t get high or experience any unintended side effects or euphoria after opiate consumption.
Unlike many other opioid prescription drugs, or street drugs like morphine and heroin, Suboxone won’t get users high. However, it can still be addictive. It still contains opioids, and it still changes the way the body and brain function.
If a person who is dependent on Suboxone tries to stop consumption suddenly, withdrawal symptoms would appear. Suboxone can be a tool in the fight against addiction, but it has to be administered carefully and always monitored under the direct supervision of a medical professional.
Tapering Suboxone Use
Ending an addiction to any opioid substance is a challenge, Suboxone included. For those who struggle with a Suboxone dependence, one approach can be tapering. This is a form of weaning where patients consume increasingly smaller amounts of Suboxone over time until their bodies no longer need the substance.
Suboxone use can be consumed in many ways. When administered properly in a medical environment, Suboxone is usually in the form of a film or a tablet that gets placed under the tongue. To taper, smaller doses would be administered in this format.
Some individuals crush or snort Suboxone for recreational use. In these cases, patients should never be encouraged to continue with the drug in this format, even if they are trying to taper. If Suboxone is not taken appropriately, even reduced dosage poses too many risks.
Withdrawing From Suboxone
Whether individuals taper off Suboxone slowly or they cease consumption all at once, they are likely to face a period of Suboxone withdrawal. This is often done in a detox or addiction treatment facility. When this happens, the body will begin to adjust without a regular dose of opiates.
Although Suboxone has valuable medical uses, withdrawing from it is similar to withdrawing from any other prescription opioid painkiller or even potent opiates like heroin. The body will often face serious discomfort for several days as this adjustment period takes place.
Many patients who are withdrawing from Suboxone will note emotional, psychological and physical symptoms. Thankfully, these are not permanent conditions. Symptoms tend to peak at about 72 hours into the process, and they may be over in as little as a week.
In a treatment program specifically for those recovering from addiction, withdrawal symptoms can be eased greatly with targeted medical attention. Pharmacological treatment, proper hydration and emergency care can ensure that patients are well taken care of and as comfortable as possible given the circumstances.
Alternatives to Opioid Medication
In many cases, Suboxone was intended as a short-term replacement for opioid pain medication. Individuals who suffer from chronic pain may not feel that they can live their lives comfortably without relying on a strong medication. Thankfully, there are alternatives out there that can replace the effects of Suboxone and contribute to a better, healthier life.
Some of the most popular alternatives to consider in the treatment of a Suboxone addiction are behavioral therapies. Therapy can help patients to be more mindful of themselves and any pain, and it can actually reduce how patients feel and respond to both emotional and physical pain. The three most common types of behavioral therapy include ACT, DBT and CBT.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT, encourages mindfulness and acceptance strategies. It teaches patients how to increase their psychological flexibility, changing their behavior in pursuit of happiness. ACT employs a range of exercises designed to help patients change how they respond to certain feelings.
Another form of therapy is DBT, or dialectical behavioral therapy. DBT is all about understanding triggers, stress and emotions and how best to respond to them. By creating healthy coping mechanisms, patients can do more than just avoid harm. They can actually improve their quality of life.
CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy, is the third form of behavioral therapy that can help in treating a Suboxone addiction. CBT is especially help in the prevention of a relapse. It aims to teach patients how to self-evaluate and change negative behaviors before it is too late.
These therapeutic approaches take time and effort. However, they can greatly improve quality of life. They are also an effective way to reduce pain and improve outlook for patients who deal with chronic pain or discomfort.
Planning for Recovery From Suboxone
In order to benefit from the therapy, assistance and medical supervision necessary during recovery, patients will want to participate in a formal addiction treatment program. There are several options available, and formats can vary. Many patients getting off Suboxone can also benefit from coverage made available through their health insurance providers.
In many cases, a residential program will be ideal. This is a 24/7 approach where accountability and supervision are readily available. However, some patients may prefer partial hospitalization programs or even intensive outpatient programs. Family involvement and support system availability can help when making this decision.
The process of recovery won’t necessarily be quick. It may take several weeks until patients are comfortable without a daily dose of Suboxone. However, following through with the right program can grant patients a life of health and sobriety once and for all.