shutterstock_1727098729.jpegAs we cross the threshold into a new year, many of us clutch tightly onto the promise of renewal - the irresistible allure of self-improvement, of breaking away from harmful habits and embracing healthier ones. In particular, for those battling the grips of opioid addiction, this turning of the calendar often sparks a renewed commitment to recovery.

As a critical tool in the fight against opioid addiction, Suboxone plays a crucial role in easing the painful withdrawal symptoms that often accompany this journey. This year,Dr. James K. Cardi M.D. will help you in a deeper understanding of the role of Suboxone in your recovery, and how it can help you reclaim your life and health in the year ahead.


What Is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a specialized medication composed of buprenorphine and naloxone, prescribed to individuals grappling with opioid addiction. This oral film is designed to treat opioid dependence and significantly decrease withdrawal symptoms when ceasing the use of opioids. It's a major player in managing opioid use disorder, offering relief not just during the initial withdrawal phase but also for an extended period of time afterward.

Suboxone can be applied either under the tongue, a method known as sublingual administration, or placed between your gums and cheek, known as buccal administration. In both cases, the film dissolves in the mouth. The medication comes in four different strengths to cater to the varying needs of patients: 2 milligrams (mg) buprenorphine / 0.5 mg naloxone, 4 mg buprenorphine / 1 mg naloxone, 8 mg buprenorphine / 2 mg naloxone, and 12 mg buprenorphine / 3 mg naloxone.

A critical function of Suboxone in treating opioid dependence is its efficacy in reducing opioid misuse. Clinical trials have demonstrated its effectiveness in keeping individuals with opioid dependence engaged in their treatment over a 24-week period. The success of treatments like Suboxone is partly determined by how long they can keep patients in treatment, implying long-term commitment to recovery from opioid withdrawal.

How Do You Use Suboxone?

Suboxone, which contains buprenorphine and naloxone, is typically used daily. Here are the steps to use it effectively:

  1. Clean Your Hands: Always start by washing your hands thoroughly. This is important to prevent any germs or foreign substances from entering your body during administration.
  2. Place the Film: Place the Suboxone film under your tongue or between your cheek and gum (buccal administration). Make sure your mouth is empty before you do this.
  3. Let it Dissolve: Allow the film to dissolve completely. This process usually takes approximately 2 to 10 minutes. Remember not to chew or swallow the film.
  4. Avoid Eating or Drinking: Wait until the film has completely dissolved before eating or drinking anything.

It's important to remember that Suboxone is designed to treat dependence on opioid drugs, and is most effective when used as part of a comprehensive recovery program. This typically includes counseling and attendance at support group meetings, in addition to the use of Suboxone. This medication, with its buprenorphine-naloxone components, is a powerful tool in the recovery process, helping to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings that come with abstaining from opioid drug use. However, it is also crucial to follow your doctor’s instructions precisely about how to use it, when to use it, and in what dosage.

Who Will Use Suboxone?

Suboxone is primarily used by the following populations:

  • Individuals Experiencing Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms: Those who are trying to quit opioid drugs and are experiencing withdrawal symptoms can benefit from Suboxone's use. The medication alleviates distressing symptoms such as anxiety, muscle aches, sweating, and nausea, making the withdrawal process more manageable.
  • Patients Undergoing Addiction Treatment: As a partial opioid agonist, Suboxone is commonly used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs. It attaches to the same brain receptors as other opioids but does not produce the same high, helping reduce cravings and keeping individuals engaged in their recovery.
  • People at Risk of Opioid Overdose: Suboxone contains naloxone, an opioid antagonist that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. If Suboxone is injected, naloxone will block the effects of buprenorphine, discouraging misuse of the medication.
  • Individuals with Chronic Pain: While not a primary use, some people with chronic pain who are at risk of becoming dependent on stronger opioids may use Suboxone as a safer pain management option.

In all cases, Suboxone must be used under the supervision of a healthcare professional, as misuse can lead to addiction and other health risks.

The Role of Suboxone in Recovery

Suboxone serves a critical role in the recovery journey from opioid addiction, acting as a key player in addiction treatment. The active ingredients of Suboxone - buprenorphine and naloxone - each play an important role in this process. Buprenorphine, a partial agonist, has the ability to attach to the same opioid receptors as other opioids. Instead of creating the euphoric high associated with opioid abuse, buprenorphine simply satisfies the brain's craving for opioids, thereby reducing the physical cravings that individuals often experience during detox.

On the other hand, naloxone, an opioid antagonist, works by blocking the opioid receptors that are activated by drugs. If an individual attempts to misuse Suboxone by injecting it, naloxone will quickly cause immediate withdrawal symptoms, serving as a deterrent and protective agent against drug abuse.

The combination of these two active ingredients makes Suboxone treatment an effective approach to treat opioid addiction. Suboxone and its extended-release version, Sublocade, treat addictions to a range of opioids, including heroin, morphine, opium, codeine, oxycodone, oxycontin, and hydrocodone (Vicodin). They offer a sense of normalcy and relief from withdrawal symptoms and cravings, enabling individuals to concentrate on their recovery journey.

Additionally, in some cases, Suboxone has also been used to manage chronic pain, offering a safer alternative to stronger, more addictive opioids. This highlights the drug's versatility and its significant role in both the treatment of opioid addiction and the management of chronic pain. However, it is vital to remember that Suboxone treatment should always be administered under the supervision of a healthcare professional to prevent misuse and potential health risks.

Benefits of Suboxone

Suboxone and Sublocade have been instrumental in treating opioid dependence, offering substantial benefits to those grappling with this addiction. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Suboxone for treating opioid addiction in 2002, followed by the approval of Sublocade in 2017. These medications have since been effectively used to treat millions of people addicted to opioids, helping them avoid the potentially lethal effects of withdrawal and reclaim their lives.

One significant benefit of Suboxone and Sublocade is their ability to prevent the harsh symptoms commonly associated with 'cold turkey' withdrawal. This allows patients to gradually wean off opioids without experiencing significant pain. Furthermore, these medications carry a low risk of abuse as they do not induce the 'high' typically linked with some other drugs used for opioid addiction treatment.

Additionally, Suboxone and Sublocade are known for their capacity to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms, making the recovery process more manageable. They are also recognized for their safety profile, as they do not create long-term harm to organs, making them a sustainable option for long-term treatment plans.

In summary, the benefits of Suboxone and Sublocade go beyond simply treating opioid addiction. They also contribute significantly to mitigating the effects of withdrawal, reducing cravings, and promoting safer recovery pathways. These factors, combined, underscore the pivotal role of these medications in treating opioid dependence.

Risk Factors When Using Suboxone

While Suboxone is a powerful tool in the treatment of opioid drug dependence, it is not without risks, which are amplified when the drug is not properly prescribed or used. It is crucial to note that Suboxone should only be prescribed by healthcare professionals who have undergone specific training and are registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration. This is because misuse of Suboxone can lead to addiction, overdose, or even death.

The risks associated with Suboxone primarily stem from its active ingredient, buprenorphine, which, like other opioids, can cause physical dependence. Individuals using Suboxone over a prolonged period may experience withdrawal symptoms if they abruptly stop taking the medication. Symptoms can include muscle aches, restlessness, insomnia, irritability, and flu-like symptoms.

Furthermore, although Suboxone is used to treat opioid drug dependence, it can itself be subject to misuse. Injection of Suboxone may lead to serious withdrawal symptoms due to the naloxone component. Also, combining Suboxone with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants can result in life-threatening respiratory distress.

Pregnant women should also be cautious, as buprenorphine can pass into the baby and cause dependency. After birth, the baby may suffer from life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

Lastly, Suboxone can have side effects including headache, stomach pain, constipation, vomiting, sweating, difficulty sleeping, and swelling in your hands or feet.

In conclusion, when doctors prescribe suboxone it plays a vital role in the treatment of opioid drug dependence and is used under close supervision to minimize these risk factors.

Getting Started With Suboxone

If you are considering starting Suboxone as part of your recovery journey, it's essential to seek professional help. One such professional specializing in Suboxone treatment is Dr. James Cardi. He is highly experienced in helping individuals manage their opioid dependence, guiding them through the initial stages of Suboxone usage, and providing continued support through maintenance treatment.

Before you start Suboxone, ensure you have a detailed conversation with your healthcare provider about your medical history and any current medications you are taking. This will allow them to assess any potential risks and devise a treatment plan that is most suitable for your specific circumstances.

Once you start treatment, it is crucial to adhere strictly to your prescribed dosage and never attempt to alter the dosage without consulting your healthcare provider. Misuse of Suboxone can lead to serious health problems, including addiction and overdose.

Maintenance treatment refers to the ongoing use of medication to manage a chronic condition. In the context of Suboxone, maintenance treatment aims to provide a stable dose of the medication to help prevent withdrawal symptoms and cravings, allowing the individual to focus on recovery strategies such as behavioral therapy and counseling.

Take Control of Your Recovery Today

Don't let opioid dependence define your life. Dr. James Cardi, M.D. is here to guide you toward a healthier future. His comprehensive approach to Suboxone treatment has helped countless individuals reclaim control of their addiction. 

Schedule an appointment today, because your recovery journey begins with one bold step.

Book Your Consultation With Dr. James Cardi M.D. and take the first step on the path to recovery.