Suboxone, a prescription drug that combines buprenorphine and naloxone, is commonly used to treat opiate dependence.
Patients take the sublingual medication while attending therapy and learning to avoid relapse. Starting at a high dose that essentially replaces the drug of choice in their systems, patients slowly lower their dose incrementally over months or even years so that they can avoid the significant withdrawal symptoms associated with opiate detox and become completely drug free.
Unfortunately, some people abuse Suboxone, develop a dependence on it, and experience a number of difficulties as a result. Most in this group have a history of opiate addiction using painkillers and/or heroin; they may attempt to get clean and sober using Suboxone and then relapse and end up abusing the drug or use it to augment an ongoing addiction.
However Suboxone abuse starts, it can end poorly unless treatment is sought. Learn more about options in addiction treatment at Michael’s House today.
Health Risks and Side Effects of Suboxone Abuse
There are a number of side effects that can occur from use and abuse of Suboxone. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the most commonly reported health effects of Suboxone include:
- Cold/ flu symptoms (e.g., runny nose, achiness, fatigue, etc.)
- Profuse sweating
- Difficulty falling asleep or sleeping well
- Nausea and vomiting
- Significant mood swings
Additionally, in some cases, respiratory depression is experienced in patients taking the drug, especially among those who abuse the substance. Those who have a hard time breathing while using the medication should immediately report the issue to their doctor. In most cases, these side effects of use and abuse of the drug will subside if the person stops taking Suboxone.
Potential Long-Term Issues of Suboxone Abuse
There are some anecdotal reports in the community that after cessation of Suboxone treatment there is an issue with experiencing a low tolerance for pain. This in turn has been blamed for an increase in cravings for opiate drugs and an increased risk of relapse in the years following Suboxone use. However, this issue is found among many people who were formerly addicted to high doses of opiate drugs, so it is unclear whether or not the low pain tolerance and associated increase in cravings are directly connected to abuse of Suboxone or abuse of opiate drugs in general.
Others report that attempting to detox off Suboxone is intensely difficult. Some say they experience intense insomnia and vivid, disturbing nightmares when they do fall asleep. Nausea, vomiting, paranoia and edginess often characterize the process, especially for those who attempt to wean themselves off the drug without the assistance and care of a medical professional.
The biggest health concern of both these issues is the potential for relapse. Even a brief return to opiate use after long periods of abstinence can be deadly, and a return to ongoing opiate abuse can translate into an active addiction.
Potential Negative Effects vs. Potential Gain
For many patients, the use of Suboxone to stop using heroin and other opiate drugs of addiction can be a life-changing, positive choice. For others, the drug becomes yet another instrument of drug dependence. Whether or not the potential harm outweighs the potential gain is a discussion you should have with an addiction treatment professional. Learn more about Suboxone and other methods of opiate detox and addiction treatment when you contact us at Michael’s House today.