Suboxone was approved by the FDA in 2002, and is used to treat addiction to hydrocodone, codeine, heroin, Fentanyl, OxyContin and other drugs. The medication is a combination of Naloxone and Buprenorphine. Naloxone is a drug that blocks the effects of opiate drugs. Buprenorphine is a synthetic opiate that prevents withdrawal symptoms in addicts who stop using opiates.
Suboxone was developed as an alternative to methadone as a treatment for heroin and other opioid drug abuse. Annual sales of the drug are estimated to be approximately $1.5 billion. The U.S. is in an opioid drug abuse epidemic and for that reason Suboxone development was subsidized by the government. High hopes for the success of Suboxone as a treatment for drug addiction has not been achieved, because the drug is often abused. Instead of being a deterrent for drug abuse, it has caused many health problems and even deaths among those who abuse it. Suboxone has proven to be a lucrative asset bringing in millions of dollars annually to the manufacturer, physicians and those on the street who sell the drug to addicts. But it has caused health insurance companies to limit their coverage of the drug because of the many problems associated with it.
The Buprenorphine in Suboxone is an opioid drug that produces feelings of euphoria and the drug is addictive. Effects from the drug are not as severe as heroin and other opioid drugs and overdose is not as prevalent. Buprenorphine is prescribed to drug addicts by federally authorized physicians under a load restriction of 100 patients. This restriction has created an unmet need for many more addicts and has caused some physicians to be over-prescribing the opioid medications that made people addicts in the first place. These problems have created a dangerous subculture that sells Suboxone for cash in a thriving covert market. People with heroin or other opioid drug abuse problems use the drug to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay. Others will use it recreationally for the potent buzz that it produces and prison inmates use it as a replacement for heroin. It is available in a dissolvable film strip that can easily be hidden and taken orally. Some buprenorphine physicians in the U.S. have been found to be over-prescribing narcotics and are involved in insurance fraud. Many of these physicians have been suspended or arrested for their crimes.
Adverse Effects of Suboxone
Suboxone drug abuse may cause life threatening seizures or respiratory depression when it is used with alcohol or other drugs. Some adverse effects of the drug abuse are: sweating, diarrhea, slurred speech, nausea, vomiting, increased blood pressure, dilated pupils, poor memory, depression, watery eyes, apathy, drowsiness, insomnia, decreased libido, hair loss, emotional numbness, and muscle pain and cramps. Suboxone is a long-lasting drug and its effects can last for several hours. Children exposed to the drug may experience fatal respiratory depression.
Suboxone was initially intended to be a treatment for opioid drug abuse, a detox medication and as a drug replacement medication. Instead it has become a drug of abuse itself. For many people who suffer from chronic pain, opioid medications are prescribed as treatment. If they abused their medication and became addicted they were put on Suboxone instead.
Those who support Suboxone as a treatment for drug addiction claim it is the best alternative available to deter a life of poverty, unemployment, crime and physical and mental illness that accompanies drug addiction. They support it as an alternative to methadone for use in detox and maintenance for drug addicts. There are others who oppose Suboxone because they believe it has become another addictive substance being offered to sick or addicted people. So far, the jury is out and we have yet to see what the verdict concerning Suboxone will be.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the White Sands Treatment Center at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.