Suboxone is a manufactured drug that helps individuals with opioid addictions. The substance uses buprenorphine and naloxone that, when combined, bind to the same brain receptors opioids do. Because of this, the drug provides opioid users a source to reduce cravings without using opioids. Suboxone has helped many people, with one study finding a 50 percent decrease in the risk of fatal overdoses and a significant drop in the risk of a nonfatal overdose. Despite proven success using suboxone, some people believe the drug is even more dangerous than the opiates recovered from it. This results in a fertile spread of misinformation such as the myths seen below.
Myth 1: Suboxone is more dangerous and addictive than opiates, and you can overdose on suboxone just like opiates.
In reality, it’s extremely hard to overdose on just suboxone. Though the compound reacts similarly to the same receptors as opiates, suboxone is a “weak partial opiate receptor agonist.”This means suboxone does not completely bind to the brain receptors in the way opiates do, which produces a “ceiling-effect.” Because of this partial binding and limitation, suboxone does not provide the high that other opiates do, which prevents the compound from being abused in the same way. This results in a compound that satisfies the cravings of an opiate addiction without resulting in an overdose.
However, suboxone can be used in an overdose if combined with another drug. In the cases where suboxone participated in an overdose, the individual also used substances that lowered breathing, like benzodiazepines. This can be a dangerous combination, and suboxone may react poorly with additional medications as well.
Myth 2: Using suboxone won’t help your recovery long term.
Suboxone is incredibly helpful for those in addiction treatment. When an opioid is consumed, the drug attaches to brain receptors responsible for pleasure and reward, resulting in the user feeling less pain. This can be a desirable feeling for anyone, as the intense rush of brain chemicals signaling “pleasure” can create a euphoric sensation. This intensity is drastically higher than what a person would feel from naturally receiving the neurotransmitters, which causes the brain to want the sensation that much more.
With this in mind, it’s no wonder people can grow addicted to opioids. The cravings can be extremely difficult to overcome, resulting in a spiral of addiction too deep to recover from. Suboxone combats these cravings by partially binding to the receptors of opioids without providing the euphoric sensation. This can be a big step forward for many people in recovery. While it offers addicts a step forward, that doesn’t mean recovery is easy. Recovering addicts must continue to avoid opiates and similar substances for full and permanent recovery to be possible.
Myth 3: Suboxone isn’t a real treat because it’s a drug and not therapy.
Some people believe that suboxone cannot be considered a therapy treatment because it is a substance. There is also a great deal of misinformation regarding where suboxone can be obtained from, with some pointing out that suboxone is a substance sold on the street. Yes, dealers may sell suboxone, but that doesn’t negate the positive effects and evidence of this treatment. Any medication can be abused; there are plenty of stories on teenagers drinking Nyquil in an attempt to get drunk, but the drug is still known for helping people sleep and combat the common cold.
If possible, addiction treatment should include some form of therapy in addition to using suboxone. Addiction is a long and difficult process to take on alone, and counseling, group therapies, and other forms of support have proven to help former addicts avoid relapsing. However, that doesn’t mean using suboxone alone isn’t a viable treatment. If suboxone combats the cravings and keeps the user on track to addiction recovery, that person is successfully recovering.
Myth 4: Suboxone cannot be used long-term.
Though there’s a great deal of debate among physicians regarding the length of suboxone treatment, there is no definitive study demonstrating the harmful effects of using suboxone long-term. Timelines for recovery differ for everybody, and some recovering addicts may need to use suboxone for a longer period than others. Some studies have shown that using suboxone for a brief time may result in relapses, as the users did not have the time necessary to overcome the intense cravings opiates cause.
Ideally, as mentioned before, suboxone would be paired with counseling sessions and assistance in buying food, finding shelter, and earning reliable employment. Both suboxone and counseling may be necessary long term, but that doesn’t mean recovery is less deserved.
Myth 5: Addicts are weak.
All addicts, especially opiate addicts, receive a poor reputation for being weak because an addiction developed. This kind of thinking is incredibly short-sighted, as addictions can result from almost anything. Many opiate addicts become addicted to pain medication prescribed to them, an entirely innocent introduction to opiates. The brain naturally craves for positive stimulus, and when such a rush can be provided (even if in the form of an opiate), who wouldn’t feel the cravings addicts must overcome?
Suboxone significantly reduces your risk of having a fatal or nonfatal overdose, and it may help you out of a life of addiction. Addiction can be a crippling disease, one that you may feel trapped in. And if you have or been told any of the above myths, you may feel like suboxone treatment isn’t safe or appropriate for your condition.
But that isn’t true. Suboxone can help anyone on the road to recovery along with hard work and persistence. You’re not alone, not in your addiction and not in your path to recovery. If you or someone you know are struggling with opiate addiction, contact us right away. We are here for you, to help you begin your recovery journey and to help you live a healthier life.