Suboxone is a combination of two drugs: buprenorphine and naloxone.
It’s often used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT), designed to help lessen the severity of withdrawal effects experienced by people recovering from opioid use disorder. It can also help those patients avoid relapsing and may help reduce their dependence on opioids in the long term.
The withdrawal process can be painful. Understanding the use of Suboxone for pain relief can help you understand how it works and why it’s an important part of our treatment process. Today, we’re sharing the features of Suboxone that make it useful in this circumstance.
Chronic Pain and Opioid Addiction
By definition, chronic pain is any type of pain that persists for longer than six months. There are many issues that can contribute to it, including:
- Ongoing health conditions (e.g. arthritis, cancer)
Some individuals experience chronic pain absent of any of these conditions. Or, they may have pain that stems from an event in childhood from which they’ve long recovered. The CDC estimates that around 20% of U.S. adults (50 million people) currently suffer from some form of chronic pain.
How does this relate to opioid addiction?
For centuries, people have turned to opioids to help them manage the effects of chronic pain. As the demand for pain management solutions continues to increase, pharmaceutical companies continue to develop different opioid medications to meet this need.
While opioids can be effective when used as prescribed, their prevalence has also led to an uptick in opioid misuse, as well as opioid abuse disorder. In one study, researchers from the National Institute of Health (NIH) found that 14% to 19% of individuals treated for chronic pain became addicted to the very medications they were prescribed.
The risk of misusing prescription opioids increases when the patient is also experiencing an accompanying, co-occurring mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety. It’s also higher in those who also suffer from a substance use disorder.
Pain Associated With Opioid Withdrawl
When individuals enter treatment programs and begin withdrawing from the opioids they were once dependent upon, the process can be incredibly difficult, both emotionally and physically. While everyone’s experience is unique, there is a typical timeline of symptom progression that most will experience.
In the first 24 hours of withdrawal, the earliest signs usually appear. These include:
- Muscle aches
- Excessive sweating
- Runny nose
- Teary eyes (lacrimation)
- Excessive yawning
After the first day, more severe symptoms often begin to set in. These include:
- Increased blood pressure
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heart rate
- Dilated pupils
Both immediate and late-term symptoms occur because patients have been using opioids to manage the sensations that their body naturally produces, including their mood and pain response. When those substances are no longer available, it can become difficult to function normally.
How Can Suboxone Help?
When an individual is going through withdrawal, online Suboxone can help alleviate and relieve the symptoms caused by their opioid use disorder. It works by activating the opioid receptors in the patient’s brain, allowing it to feel temporarily satisfied so withdrawal symptoms aren’t as prevalent and are easier to manage. Opioid receptors are responsible for managing pain sensations, so activating them helps some patients manage the painful feelings of withdrawal.
As Suboxone works to mitigate uncomfortable side effects, patients can focus less on the pain they’re experiencing and more on the important recovery process.
The buprenorphine contained within Suboxone is a synthetic opioid. It is FDA-approved to help treat the symptoms of chronic pain, acute pain, and opioid dependence. It’s an agent used in a form of opioid treatment called agonist substitution treatment.
In this approach, buprenorphine is used as a substitute for a stronger opioid, such as heroin. Over time, the substitute tapers down. This allows the patient to withdraw from their opiate addiction with little pain or discomfort.
Not only can buprenorphine reduce opioid dependence, but it can also help reduce long-term cravings for the opioid. This helps improve the quality of life for patients who are undergoing addiction treatment.
Avoiding Suboxone Misuse and Dependence
As you learn more about Suboxone’s role in relieving pain, you might wonder about its addictive properties. Can individuals undergoing treatment for opioid addiction become dependent on it?
This risk is mitigated by the fact that buprenorphine medicines, including Suboxone, have what’s known as a ceiling effect. In short, this means that at a certain level, it won’t provide an increased feeling of euphoria. At that point, the effects will not increase, even if the dose does.
This helps keep patients safe as they work hard toward their opioid recovery. The inclusion of naloxone in Suboxone also helps in this regard. Naloxone is a medication that reverses the effects of opioid overdose.
It’s in Suboxone to discourage patients from misusing the drug through injection. If someone tries to inject Suboxone, the naloxone creates unpleasant withdrawal effects. It also makes other opioids less effective.
The ceiling effect, combined with the addition of naloxone, makes patients less likely to abuse or become dependent on Suboxone outside of the treatment realm. As with any treatment mediation, it’s important for all patients to practice caution and care. Suboxone should not be taken concurrently with benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, and should not be consumed with alcohol.
Learn More About the Use of Suboxone
Suboxone can be an effective treatment option for patients struggling with opioid dependence. It binds to the same opioid receptors in their brain, helping them avoid the painful withdrawal effects that discourage many people from undergoing treatment in the first place.
At Recovery Delivered, we provide online Suboxone doctors. This includes prescribing Suboxone as necessary. To learn more about the use of Suboxone and how it works, we encourage you to reach out to our team.
If you’re in the throes of opioid addiction and you want to start or continue Suboxone treatment, click here to start today.