As more and more people become addicted to opioids, medication assistance during detox has become a more acceptable and recommended means of helping them to achieve and maintain abstinence. For years, methadone was the primary medication used, however, strict limitations in dispensing, available programs offering treatment, and the burdens of time and travel costs were barriers that prevented many from getting the help they needed.
All of this changed, when in 2002, the FDA approval of buprenorphine medications, Suboxone and Subutex, opened the doors of hope for thousands of opioid dependents who would, otherwise, never receive adequate opioid addiction treatment. Under the Drug Addiction Treatment Act (DATA) of 2000, these medications became the first narcotic drugs approved for use in opioid treatment programs (OTPs) outside of the traditional methadone clinics.
Now, certified physicians in the United States are enabled to offer the unique pharmacological benefits of Suboxone detoxification directly from their offices and with greater leniency than the regulations governing methadone and these treatments, increasingly, have become the most viable alternatives.
What is Suboxone?
Suboxone and Subutex are the original brand name buprenorphine medications used in the treatment of opioid addictions. Suboxone comes in a sublingual film designed to be taken orally and dissolved under the tongue. It is a 4:1 ratio combination of buprenorphine/naloxone that helps to relieve the distresses of opiate withdrawal while deterring abuse and promoting abstinence from illicit opioid use and activities.
In Suboxone, the partial opioid agonist, buprenorphine, produces long-lasting effects similar to methadone to stave off cravings and withdrawals while blocking the effects of other opioids by occupying the opioid receptors in the brain. According to the SAMHSA, Opioid partial agonists are drugs that activate receptors, but not to the same degree as full agonists.” Full opioid agonists, like morphine and methadone, are able to produce sedation, euphoria, and dangerous respiratory depression in high enough amounts, but, buprenorphine reaches a ceiling at moderate doses and the effects will not increase beyond that ceiling with dosage increases.
The naloxone content of Suboxone is an opioid antagonist which also deters abuse by causing the displacement of opioids from the receptors and precipitating withdrawals if the person attempts to abuse the medication making injection of the drug unfeasible.
What is Suboxone Detoxification?
Detoxing from opioids involves more than clearing the toxins from the body. Long term cravings and altered brain functions can leave a person vulnerable to higher rates of relapse than a majority of other drugs. Although opioid withdrawals are not generally life-threatening, they can be painful and unpleasant and for many, the detox process is too overwhelming to complete on their own, requiring a substitute medication for both the acute phase and the post withdrawals to keep them engaged in the process.
Suboxone detoxification provides the adequate source of help many opioid-dependent individuals need to stave off withdrawals and cravings while they work towards eliminating illicit opioid dependence. According to the NIDA “When patients receive buprenorphine instead of clonidine to help them withdraw from opioid abuse, they are more likely to succeed.”
Once an opioid dependence is diagnosed and the person is determine to be an appropriate candidate for Suboxone detoxification who will comply with treatment safety and compliance, Suboxone can be prescribed with greater convenience and confidentiality for the individual’s comfort. Suboxone detoxification helps the person gain enough time away from the shorter acting opiates, reducing tolerance, minimizing withdrawals and the cravings, and stabilizing internal physiological disruptions that keep opioid dependents in the realms of addiction.
As determined by the provider and the opioid dependent person, the Suboxone detoxification treatment can last as long as the person needs it to remain free from the other drugs. Dosages can be gradually tapered off with a minimum of adverse effects when there is evidence of sustained medical and psychosocial stability.
Benefits of Suboxone Detoxification
The risks of illicit opioid abuse is high including overdose, death, physical and mental health disorders, the destruction of family units, and significant social dysfunctions. By using Suboxone in detoxification treatments provided more conveniently through office-based settings, patients are more likely to remain engaged in treatment long enough to achieve and maintain a longer term abstinence from those types of drugs.
Suboxone detoxification can be provided in a variety of inpatient or outpatient settings including office-based treatments that have, increasingly, become more abundant and available. According to the SAMHSA,”Office‐based treatment with buprenorphine promises to bring opioid addiction care into the mainstream of medical practice, thereby greatly expanding access to treatment and bringing new hope to thousands.” Suboxone detoxification therefore, can be treated like many other health complication in closer relationships between the physician and the patient.
Because there is a leniency in the dispensing requirements of Suboxone, less frequent visits are necessary and prescriptions up to a month can help to eliminate some of the burdens of travel, time, and costs associated with other treatments.
Suboxone detoxification allows the person to pursue normal, healthy, and productive daily functioning without the adverse effects and behaviors associated with illicit opioid abuse. By working closely with the provider, the opioid dependent should no longer desire other opioids thereby improving their overall health and giving them more time to focus on the things that matter most such as work, family, and a better quality of life.
Suboxone detoxification treatment can be extended for months and if necessary and the person can be transitioned to a maintenance phase indefinitely to prevent relapse.