Drug abuse is an ongoing problem in the USA, with deaths related to opioid overdoses increasing from 56,064 to 75,673 between April 2020 and April 2021. That’s a lot of heartbroken families.
Thankfully there are treatment options for those who need it. For example, medically-assisted treatment (MAT) eliminates a patient’s dependence on opioids by reducing withdrawal symptoms through the use of medications like Suboxone.
If you’re interested to learn more about Suboxone treatment requirements, keep reading as we discuss everything you need to know.
What Is Opioid Use Disorder?
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition, diagnosis of opioid use disorder requires the presence of at least two of eleven characteristics within a year. Some, but not all, of these are:
- Taking increased amounts or over a longer duration than intended
- Making unsuccessful efforts to reduce or control opioid use
- Focusing a lot of time around obtaining, using, or recovering from opioids
- Having cravings to use opioids
- Neglecting other areas of your life in favor of using opioids
- Using opioids in dangerous environments and situations
- Exhibiting signs of tolerance
- Exhibiting signs of withdrawal
There are several reasons why someone can become addicted to opioids, and not everyone is “just a junkie.” Some have had the misfortune of having the wrong medication or the incorrect dose prescribed to them, and others weren’t explained or didn’t understand the risks of dependence on the drug when they started taking them.
Withdrawal is a significant factor why many users fear coming off an opioid like heroin. Withdrawal signs can include the following:
- Body aches (joints and muscles)
- Anger or irritability
- Feeling jittery
Thankfully, treatments like methadone and Suboxone aid the patient in coming off of opioids by significantly reducing those symptoms.
What Is Suboxone?
Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) is a medication used in opioid addiction treatment, much like methadone, its more commonly known cousin. Common opioids such as heroin, oxycodone, codeine, and morphine are called “opioid agonists.” Conversely, medications like Suboxone are called “opioid antagonists.”
When someone uses a substance like heroin, it triggers the pain-blocking receptor in the brain. Known as the “opioid effect,” this releases endorphins (the chemicals that provide you pleasure) and transforms your perception of pain.
When the patient takes Suboxone, the buprenorphine blocks the opioid agonist from activating the pain receptors in the brain, resulting in a reduction of both cravings and withdrawal symptoms. In addition, naltrexone blocks other opioids from taking effect, which makes the opioids ineffective.
Suboxone Treatment Requirements
According to state law, health insurers are required to cover mental health and substance use disorders at the same level as they do for other forms of medical care. As a result, the only legal way to get Suboxone is through a licensed medical practitioner, who is required by state law to follow strict prescribing requirements.
Most health insurance plans cover Suboxone treatment; however, some might require pre-approval or pre-authorization. If this is the case, your doctor will require approval for the treatment from your health insurance provider. This process could take a day or two to a week.
If you don’t have health insurance, you also have the option to pay out-of-pocket or look into your state’s government-subsidized programs.
In order to get a prescription, you need to:
- Find a licensed Suboxone doctor
- Schedule an appointment
- Be honest and upfront with your health history and drug use
- Discuss your reason for seeking treatment
- Undergo an intake assessment to calculate your correct dose
- Receive your first one or two doses to begin your treatment
You can either complete your treatment at home or through a rehabilitation center program. The amount you will pay depends on your health insurance plan’s prescription drug coverage limits. If your insurance plan doesn’t cover the total cost, you may be required to pay a copayment (a percentage of the prescription cost).
Suboxone Medication for Addiction Treatment
Suboxone can be a beneficial tool in your recovery toolbox, but it should be used with caution. It’s critical to understand that this medication can also lead to dependence if not used in accordance with a licensed practitioner.
Suboxone is available in two forms: a sublingual film or a tablet. Both of these forms dissolve in the mouth and deliver the same results. The more common form patients prefer is a tablet; however, the film allows one to taper off the medication more accurately.
Important Note: Never come off your medication without the express consent of your doctor.
When using Suboxone in your treatment, it’s important to remember the following:
- Always follow your doctor’s directions
- Always dissolve Suboxone under your tongue
- Try to avoid talking, chewing, or swallowing while the medication is dissolving
- Discuss dose changes or tapering off with your doctor
Side Effects of Suboxone
There are potential side effects that can affect each patient differently with every drug, and some of the listed side effects of Suboxone treatment include:
- Low energy
- Flu-like symptoms
- Stomach pain
If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your doctor.
Using Suboxone in Your Recovery Plan
As ideal as using a medication like Suboxone is, it shouldn’t be the only component. A MAT plan should include a balanced combination of medicine, counseling for drug abuse and any co-occurring mental health problems, and regular visits to a medical practitioner.
Alongside a complete MAT program, other programs can assist you with your recovery. For example, organizations like Narcotics Anonymous, a drug-abuse sister of Alcoholics Anonymous, have proven to be very effective in preventing relapse and keeping individuals focused on their recovery.
Start Your Recovery Journey Today
It’s never too late to seek help for opioid addiction, and there are options no matter what your financial status is. However, it takes a lot of courage to take the first step in seeking out a trusted medical advisor, and we know just how difficult it is for you to start.
That’s why we encourage you to contact us today so we can assist you with your suboxone treatment requirements. Let us show you the way forward towards a life free from addiction.