What Is Suboxone?
July 29, 2019
If you are unfamiliar with different forms of medication-assisted treatment, you may not know what Vivitrol is or you may ask yourself ‘what is Suboxone?’ if this is the case, you may be able to benefit by learning more about different types of MAT that treatment facilities can offer.
Medication-assisted treatment is one of the commonly used methods to help those addicted to substances achieve sobriety, whether it is methadone, Suboxone, Vivitrol, or something else, MAT has a number of potential benefits for those looking to free themselves from the clutches of addiction.
If you or a loved one are dealing with some sort of substance use disorder, it may be a good idea to look into treatment options and how MAT can help. One form of MAT that many don’t know about it buprenorphine and Suboxone.
What Do We Know About Suboxone?
Suboxone is the brand name for a prescription medicine that contains the active ingredients buprenorphine and naloxone. It is one of many forms of MAT that is used to treat adults who are dependent on opioids.
Like all forms of MAT, Suboxone is prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling, behavioral therapy, and social support programs.
Suboxone is a considered a partial agonist form of MAT. This means that this form of therapy does not fully activate receptors in the brain, which results in a ceiling effect from these types of medications. The dose peaks at a certain point and then can fully shut down the opiate receptor completely.
Some of the common side effects include:
- Respiratory problems
- Sleepiness, dizziness, and problems with coordination
- Dependency or abuse
- Liver problems
Stages of Treatment
1. Induction — This is the beginning of treatment. For the first dose, you must be in a moderate state of withdrawal. You will work with a healthcare provider to reach a dose of Suboxone that works for you.
2. Maintenance — Healthcare providers will work with you to help you transition into the maintenance phase of the treatment in which you will no longer experience withdrawal symptoms, have minimal to no side effects, and won’t have uncomfortable cravings. During the maintenance phase, you will be working with a comprehensive treatment plan, including counseling and psychosocial support, to help patients achieve long-term sobriety.
3. Medical Taper — The final stage of Suboxone treatment is to discontinue therapy. A healthcare provider will work with you to taper you off the medication in order to not experience harsh withdrawal symptoms.
Buprenorphine is one of the components of Suboxone, it is used in MAT to help people reduce or quit their use of heroin or other opioids. Buprenorphine was first approved for clinical use by the Food and Drug Administration in October 2002 and it represents one of the most advanced forms of MAT.
Buprenorphine has pharmacological properties that help to lower the potential for misuse, diminish withdrawal symptoms and cravings, and increases the safety in cases of overdose.
Potential side effects include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle cramps
- Inability to sleep
- Distress and irritability
Oftentimes, naloxone is added to buprenorphine to decrease the likelihood of diversion and misuse of drug products
Naloxone is a FDA-approved medication that is used to prevent overdose by opioids like heroin or oxycodone. It blocks opioid receptor sites and reverses the toxic effects of the overdose.
Potential side effects of naloxone include:
- Feeling nervous
- Body aches
- Dizziness or weakness
- Diarrhea and stomach pain
- Fever or chills
Opioid overdoses are life-threatening and require immediate emergency medical attention. Overdoses can happen when a patient misunderstands directions for use, takes an extra dose, misuses a prescription, and more.
There are a number of different types of MAT, all of which may be effective in helping patients kick their harmful habits and achieve long-term sobriety. MAT for substance use disorder falls into three different categories: antagonist, partial agonist, and full agonist.
Naltrexone is an example of an opioid antagonist. A drug antagonist works by effectively blocking the activation of opioid receptors. Instead of controlling withdrawals or cravings like other forms of MAT, it works by preventing any opioid drug from producing the associated effects of euphoria that many drug users are seeking.
Partial agonists for things like opioids means that it produces effects such as euphoria or respiratory depression but these effects are weaker of those of full drugs such as heroin or even methadone. The effects increase with each dose but eventually level off producing a “ceiling effect”. This effect lowers the risk of misuse, dependency, and harmful side effects.
An agonist, such as methadone, is a form of MAT that works to eliminate withdrawal symptoms and relieves drug cravings by affecting the opioid receptors in the brain. Methadone, for instance affects the same receptors that other opioids such as heroin and other opioids activate.
Obviously, these three types of MAT all work in different ways to ultimately achieve the same goal: long-term sobriety. When deciding on the proper path forward treatment-wise, care providers will look at each individual patient and their circumstances and history to decide on the best method on treating their respective problems.
Other Forms of MAT
While Suboxone is one of the commonly used forms of MAT in the addiction community, there are a number of other different types of medication-assisted treatments that can be used to help those with substance use problems.
If you’ve come this far, you may be wondering, ‘what is Vivitrol?‘
Vivitrol is one of the many forms of MAT that has been approved by the FDA to help treat certain substance abuse issues. Vivitrol is the brand name for naltrexone. As mentioned before, naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that blocks the activation of opioid receptors in the body. Essentially, it prevents a user from feeling the euphoric and high effects from using opioids and some other substances.
Vivitrol has shown to have a number of different benefits for those in treatment achieve long-term sobriety. For example, in a six-month study, Vivitrol users were found to be 90 percent opioid-free compared to 35 percent of people receiving a placebo. Moreover, Vivitrol users were found to have decreased cravings and were more likely to stay in treatment longer. Also, Vivitrol users were less likely to relapse to physical opioid dependence compared to those taking the placebo.
Methadone has been used for decades to help treat people who are addicted to heroin and other narcotics. When this medication is taken as prescribed it can be a safe and effective method for helping someone overcome their substance use disorder. As with all forms of MAT, methadone is most effective when used in conjunction with treatment counseling and social support.
Methadone works by changing how the brain and nervous system respond to pain. It helps to reduce the painful symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal and blocks the effects of opiate drugs such as heroin and morphine.
While methadone can be a helpful form of treatment, methadone can lead to some problems, such as overdose and even death. Methadone overdose can occur when a patient accidentally or intentionally takes more than the normal or recommended amount of the medicine.
Misconceptions About MAT
There are a number of concerns over medication-assisted treatment in the addiction community, with many urging for a complete abstinence-based approach to sobriety. However, MAT holds many benefits for the user and can help contribute to and promote their sobriety. One of the reasons for the debate in the community and among loved ones of those facing addiction is because of the misconceptions surrounding MAT.
One of the common misunderstandings about MAT is the belief that patients use these forms of medication to get high. While it is possible for those who have an opioid use disorder to get high on buprenorphine or methadone, these types of medications affect people who have a high tolerance differently. If dosed and taken correctly, they will act in the opioid receptor slights more slowly and will not produce a euphoric high. Instead, it will minimize withdrawal symptoms and cravings. This will help patients function normally and participate in other forms of treatment.
Many misunderstandings surrounding MAT come from the fact that many people don’t know or understand the differences between each type of MAT. For instance, while Suboxone and methadone may be similar in their ultimate goal, there are a number of differences between the two.
Suboxone vs. Methadone
Methadone is one of the most common and well-known forms of MAT, meanwhile, Suboxone is another type of MAT that is less known and understood.
As mentioned above, the obvious and clear difference between these two forms of treatment is the fact that Suboxone is a partial agonist while methadone is a full agonist. Again, this just means that there is a “ceiling effect” for those using Suboxone and other forms of buprenorphine while this does not exist for methadone users. However, how does this affect treatment?
While there needs to be more research into the differences and clinical effectiveness between Suboxone and methadone. Some studies have shown that Suboxone users reported fewer days of heroin use in the past month compared to groups using methadone.
Moreover, in one study in which patients who had received treatment for six months with Suboxone and methadone, more Suboxone users reported being abstinent from heroin in the past 90 days compared with those treated with methadone, 71 percent compared to 38 percent.
With this said, methadone, while dangerous if not taken properly, can help improve a person’s situation and can contribute to long-term abstinence and sobriety.
Drug And Alcohol Treatment
As mentioned before, MAT is to be used and is most effective when it is used with along with other treatment efforts such as behavioral counseling and psychotherapy. For those who are looking into drug and alcohol treatment options, it is important to learn more about the details of treatment.
For many who enter drug or alcohol rehab, they will go through a medically assisted detoxification program to ensure that they safely withdrawal from their respective substances. This is generally where MAT first comes into play. MAT can be used to help patients deal with harmful withdrawal symptoms. Medically assisted treatment is one of the most important parts of drug and alcohol treatment as it helps a patient deal with the initial withdrawal symptoms in a safe environment that will keep them safe.
Following detox, patients will likely go through many forms of therapy and counseling to help them learn about the details of addiction and the benefits of sobriety. Some common types of therapy include group counseling, family therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is used to help patients and clinicians identify stimuli that can work to trigger a craving or urge that may potentially lead to a patient using again. The patient and therapist will work together to come up with solutions and strategies for dealing with these triggers, essentially creating a plan to help a patient avoid relapse.
Medication-assisted treatment, if done correctly, can be a great tool to help patients overcome their substance abuse issues. There are a number of different forms of MAT such as Vivitrol and Suboxone, that can help a patient deal with the painful withdrawal symptoms that are associated with newfound sobriety. Learning more about these forms of MAT can help you feel more comfortable if you decide that treatment is the right option for you or your loved one. If this is the route you go, it is important to find the perfect treatment facility to help you on this journey.
Landmark Recovery is one drug and alcohol rehab that is dedicated to effectively helping as many people as possible. If you are looking into substance treatment centers and still have questions like ‘How can Vivitrol help?’ or ‘What is Suboxone?’ you can visit our website and learn more about the personalized treatment plans we offer. If you would like to speak with someone today, please reach out to our Indiana treatment center admissions team today to help your figure out the next step on your road to recovery.