Using Suboxone as a primary method of treatment for opiate detox is gaining popularity in the treatment field. Because of it’s long half life, it is easy to taper (or ween yourself) off of compared to harder opiates such as heroin and oxycodone.
Today, we will examine how using Suboxone in opiate detox works and help you determine what steps to take in order to get started with the detox process.
Suboxone is similar to Methadone in many ways, as they are both used in a medical detox setting for opiate withdrawal. While Methadone has been around for nearly 100 years, Suboxone has only been on the market since 2002. During this short period of time, it has become the gold standard in drug rehabs and detoxes all over the world when addressing patients experiencing symptoms of opiate or heroin withdrawal.
What exactly is Suboxone and how does it work?
Suboxone is a combination of two drugs: buprenorphine and naloxone.
- Buprenorphine acts as a replacement to the addict’s original drug of choice, tricking the opioid receptors in the brain into thinking they are receiving another drug and in turn, preventing withdrawal symptoms
- Naloxone prevents abuse of the medication in addition to other opiates by blocking opioid receptors in the brain, making it impossible for the patient to achieve a high when taking heroin and other opiates
When to take Suboxone
One critical piece of administering Suboxone is knowing when it should be taken. Typically, a medical detox setting will require a patient addicted to opiates to wait a minimum of 24 hours (sometimes as long as 48 hours) after consuming their last dose of an opioid prior to administering Suboxone.
BE CAREFUL: If it is taken too soon, ingesting Suboxone while opiates are still heavily present in the body can cause the patient to be forced into what are known as “precipitated withdrawals.”
Precipitated withdrawals result in the patient experiencing a set of symptoms consistent with what they would expect from a typical opiate withdrawal, except the symptoms onset very quickly and have been known to be much more intense. Some common symptoms of precipitated withdrawal are:
- Muscle aches and physical pain
- Cold sweats
- Hot flashes
- Abdominal cramps
- Excessive yawning
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
It is important to note that Suboxone should only be administered by a doctor in a medical setting so that the patient’s vital signs can be monitored during the process.
The difference between Suboxone and other opiates
While one of the key components in Suboxone – buprenorphine – is technically classified as an opiate, it is important to understand its differences from other opiates like oxycodone and heroin.
When a user takes a drug such as heroin to get high, he/she experiences a quick rush that usually lasts up to 8 hours, followed by a swift dissipation of those effects. Because of this rapid onset and short half life, it can be very difficult to taper off of that drug, which leads the addict into a cycle of abuse and dependence.
Suboxone counters this with it’s extremely long half life (effects lasting between 12 and 24 hours), which means that tapering off of Suboxone in a detox setting leads to a much more comfortable experience, with less anxiety, less depression, and more overall good health.
Obtaining Suboxone for opiate withdrawal
It is important that the addict gets Suboxone from a licensed & qualified doctor who works in the treatment field or specializes in addiction medicine. La Via Detox and Behavioral Health uses Suboxone to alleviate withdrawal symptoms in opiate addicted clients.
We start by assessing the damage done by opiate addiction, and then we create a customized treatment plan to gradually treat the physical withdrawal symptoms caused by opiate addiction. Finally, we put together an aftercare program to help build a strong foundation of recovery that leads to lasting sobriety.