What is Suboxone, and what is its use?
Suboxone is a combination containing buprenorphine and naloxone. It is one of the primary medicines useful in medication-assisted therapy (MAT) for opioid addiction. The use of MATs also lessens the risk of life-threatening overdose by approximately 50%. Suboxone tightly binds the same receptors in the brain as opiates, such as morphine, heroin, or oxycodone. It blunts intoxication with other drugs, prevents craving, thus allowing people to transition back to a healthy life from a life of addiction. Subutex is the same medication
Many advocates are trying to make Suboxone more easily and widely accessible so that opiate-addicted people can readily get it. Right places to start Suboxone are the emergency department and primary care doctor’s office. More doctors should prescribe Suboxone, which requires an exclusive license and some training. Therefore, a massive majority of addiction experts, physicians, and advocates agree: “Suboxone is a lifesaver.”
Common Myths About Suboxone use for Addiction Treatment
Unfortunately, there are certain myths about Suboxone within the addiction community and also among the public. These myths add a barrier to the treatment of people suffering from opiate addiction.
Myth No. 1: You are not recovering if you are on Suboxone
Reality: It depends on what the word “recovery” means for you. A modern concept of recovery emerged out from the abstinence-based past century model, which includes the use of medications like Suboxone to regulate your brain chemistry. Now, addiction is a medical condition, and suboxone is a medication for that chronic condition like insulin is a medication for diabetes. Saying that you are not recovering if you are on suboxone is not the medical reality, and it stigmatizes the people who are taking the medication.
Myth No. 2: People abuse Suboxone
Reality: Suboxone has a potential for abuse like any other opiate. However, it’s only a partial agonist of the mu receptor (primary opioid receptor), it causes lesser euphoria than full opioid agonists such as oxycodone and heroin. People may use the medication to help manage opioid addiction or withdrawal by themselves, which some can call abuse of suboxone.
Myth No. 3: Overdosing Suboxone is easy as overdosing other opioids
Reality: It is almost impossible to overdose suboxone alone. Additionally, it is more difficult to overdose suboxone compared to other full agonist opioids, as suboxone is only a partial receptors agonist, so it causes a “ceiling” effect. It means that the number of opioid receptors activated by suboxone has a limit, so there is not much risk of respiratory depression compared to potent opioids such as oxycodone, heroin, or morphine. Suboxone overdose is because people mix it with other respiratory or central nervous system depressants such as benzodiazepines.
Myth No. 4: Suboxone is not an addiction treatment if you are not taking therapy with it
Reality: Addiction treatment ideally includes therapy and MAT, housing assistance, support groups, and employment support. But that does not signify that a single component, in the absence of others, is not a valid treatment for addiction. Only about 10% of people with addiction are getting treatment, so despite the combination treatment being an admirable goal, it is not realistic to expect that every addict cab receives all aspects of the complete treatment program, especially without proper access to healthcare and insurance, or both.
Myth No. 5: Suboxone is only a short-term medication
Reality: Experienced practitioners and trained medical professionals have variable theories for how long suboxone treatment should last. But no clinical study data is supporting that suboxone is a short-term medication. People maintain it for the long term, just as diabetes patients manage their condition with the long-term use of insulin.
The main obstacle in getting lifesaving addiction treatment is the stigma that people are facing. Luckily, the perception of our society is transforming from an outdated view of addiction as a moral failure towards a more practical view of addiction as a complex condition that needs addressing with medical care as well as compassion. Eliminating the misinformation and myths about the treatment of addiction is an essential step for the advancement of addiction treatment.