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Is Suboxone Addictive?

a person putting their head in their hands wonders is suboxone addictive

If you or a loved one struggles with opioid use disorder (OUD), you understand its devastating effects on all areas of life. OUD is a chronic, progressive disease that damages physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Without comprehensive treatment, people often become trapped in a pattern of chronic relapse and begin to believe that recovery is impossible.

Opioid withdrawal is intense, and the fear of it is a common barrier to treatment. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a powerful tool in treating OUD because it uses FDA-approved medications like Suboxone to help individuals manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings, allowing them to better focus on treatment. In the Massachussetts Suboxone clinic at Evoke Wellness at Cohasset, we offer the expert care and support needed to help patients overcome OUD. Our admissions counselors are available to talk. Call 866.931.6429 to learn more.

Understanding How Suboxone Works

A prime reason opioid dependence is so challenging to overcome is that it rewires the brain to focus almost exclusively on the need for opioids, resulting in extreme cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Suboxone helps to ease these.

Suboxone combines two medications, buprenorphine, and naloxone, that chemically work together to reduce the intensity of withdrawals and cravings by binding to opioid receptors in the brain but not activating them to create the euphoria associated with opioid use.

Suboxone contains 80% buprenorphine and 20% naloxone:

  • Buprenorphine is a partial agonist, meaning that it targets the same receptors as full opioids but binds to them more tightly, thus dulling the euphoric effects.
  • Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that attaches to opioid receptors to block and reverse the effects of other opioids.

Essentially, opioid agonists like heroin, oxycodone, and morphine activate pain-blocking receptors in the brain and release tremendous amounts of endorphins, creating euphoria. For many, this “opioid effect” quickly leads to dependency and addiction because their brain continually seeks the rush of endorphins.

By blocking the receptors in the brain that crave opioids, Suboxone prevents the brain from sending signals that cause withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Suboxone is not intended to be a “cure” for opioid use disorder.

Potential Side Effects of Suboxone

Like any medication, Suboxone can have various potential side effects, most of which are not life-threatening and generally subside within a few days. The most common side effects of Suboxone include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Insomnia

Suboxone is typically taken sublingually (under the tongue) and can cause temporary tingling or numbness in the mouth. These side effects are typically mild and temporary as your body adjusts to the dosage and generally stop within the first few days or a few weeks. However, if side effects linger or worsen, patients must consult their doctor.

Serious side effects of Suboxone are rare but can occur and may include the following:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Respiratory problems
  • Hormonal problems
  • Liver damage
  • Severe withdrawal symptoms
  • Coma

Aside from allergic reactions, most of the severe side effects of Suboxone occur when it is misused or used in conjunction with other substances, particularly alcohol and benzodiazepines.

Can You Become Addicted to Suboxone?

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is often misunderstood as an approach that promotes trading one addictive substance for another. However, medications like Suboxone are approved by the Federal Food and Drug Association (FDA) and have been empirically proven effective for treating opioid use disorder (OUD) through numerous scientific and clinical studies.

As with any medication, Suboxone carries the potential for misuse. However, buprenorphine has a “ceiling effect,” meaning that more significant or frequent doses will not amplify its potency or effects. While Suboxone addiction is unlikely, Suboxone abuse can occur. Most often, Suboxone abuse occurs when someone uses it without a prescription. In these instances, individuals are likely using Suboxone to avoid withdrawals rather than to get high.

Discover the Benefits of Suboxone Treatment at Evoke Wellness at Cohasset

Evoke Wellness at Cohasset’s highly-trained and experienced treatment team understands the unique challenges of treating opioid use disorder (OUD). As the region’s premier medical detox and residential treatment center, we provide comprehensive individualized treatment for various substance use and co-occurring disorders.

In our Suboxone clinic, we bring medicine, technology, and community together to help patients overcome OUD while receiving therapy to address addiction’s underlying mental health issues. Recovery from OUD is possible. Call 866.931.6429 to learn how Suboxone treatment can help you or your loved one, or fill out our online form.