For some, a medical intervention to control cravings, in conjunction with counselling and 12 Step Programs, can be the difference between long-lasting sobriety and relapse.
Suboxone® is a combination of two drugs – buprenorphine which is a synthetic opioid partial agonist and naloxone a synthetic opioid antagonist. Buprenorphine is used to treat addiction to other opiates, for example codeine, oxycodone, hydromorphone, meperidine, morphine and heroin. It is more effective than methadone at curbing cravings. It is not useful in treating an addiction to cocaine, powder or crack, methamphetamine (speed), MDMA (ecstasy), benzodiazepines (valium and others), marijuana or alcohol.
Buprenorphine is effective in reducing the craving to use opiates and the symptoms of opiate withdrawal. Patients get a chance to get their lives back on track because they no longer have to spend considerable time and resources to find, use and recover from drugs. They now have an opportunity to separate themselves from the people and environments that promote drug use and other harmful activities. Buprenorphine can be effective whether you inject, snort or swallow other opiates. Several scientific studies have proven that addicts on an opioid maintenance program are less likely to have legal or medical problems and are more likely to hold down a job, stay in school and keep their family together.
How is Suboxone taken?
Suboxone is a sublingual (under the tongue) tablet taken once a day or every other day. Initially patients must go to a pharmacy frequently to get their medication. The pharmacist will witness the doses being taken. As they progress in the treatment program they will be given take doses home to take on their own, generally after two months of clean urine drug screens or when they are stable. Patients are assessed weekly for several weeks and as they progress in their recovery, they attend clinic less often, usually once per month.
A Note on Starting Suboxone Treatment
Only specially trained physicians are able to prescribe Buprenorphine for Suboxone Maintenance Treatment (SMT). Starting Buprenorphine is termed “Induction”. Starting Buprenorphine too early may put people dependent on opiates into precipitated withdrawal. Precipitated withdrawal is a rapid onset and intense withdrawal caused by taking Buprenorphine when you have still have too much opiate drugs in your system. Before the induction, the physician will ensure you are in a partial opiate withdrawal state and then slowly introduce Buprenorphine to your system over several hours. You will be assessed in the morning, reassessed at the end of the day, and checked again the next morning.
SUBLOCADE® (buprenorphine extended-release) injection, for subcutaneous use is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with moderate to severe addiction (dependence) to opioid drugs (prescription or illegal) who have received an oral Suboxone at a dose that controls withdrawal symptoms for at least 7 days.