In 2002, the FDA approved the use of the Suboxone for heroin addiction. Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone.
Buprenorphine has numerous advantages over methadone and naltrexone. As a medication-assisted treatment, it suppresses withdrawal symptoms and cravings for opioids, does not cause euphoria in the opioid-dependent patient, and it blocks the effects of the other (problem) opioids for at least 24 hours.
Success rates, as measured by retention in treatment and one-year sobriety, have been reported as high as 40 to 60 percent in some studies. Treatment does not require participation in a highly-regulated federal program such as a methadone clinic.
Learn More: Heroin Detox Medications
Suboxone is used to treat individuals suffering from opioid addiction by reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings while preventing misuse. Buprenorphine belongs to a class of drugs called opioid partial agonists, which help relieve symptoms of opiate withdrawal.
Naloxone is in a class of drugs called opioid antagonists, which reverse the effects of narcotics. And reduces the pain-relieving and euphoric side effects often experienced from opioid drugs. When used as directed, the active ingredient buprenorphine attaches to the same receptors as other opioids, helping to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Since buprenorphine does not cause euphoria in patients with opioid addiction, its abuse potential is substantially lower than methadone.
Common Side Effects of Suboxone
You should tell your doctor if any of the following side effects become severe or do not go away:
• Stomach pain
• Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
Read More: The Heroin Detox Process
Serious Side Effects of Suboxone
You should contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following serious side effects:
• Itching, skin rash, or hives
• Difficulty breathing or slowed breathing
• Difficulty swallowing
• Upset stomach
• Unusual bleeding or bruising
• Extreme fatigue
• Loss of appetite
• Low energy
• Flu-like symptoms
• Pain in the upper right part of the stomach
• Yellowing of the skin or eyes
Read More: Signs a Loved One May Be Using Heroin
Suboxone May Cause Dependence
Because Suboxone contains an opioid, it can lead to dependence. This means your body starts to build a tolerance to it and you will feel uncomfortable when you stop using it.
One of the key signs of Suboxone dependence is that you start to suffer from withdrawal around 48 hours after ceasing use of the drug.
Withdrawal symptoms can mimic the flu, but they can last for up to a week. It is a sign that the opioid and its ultimately toxic influences are finally relinquishing their grip on a wide range of the body’s systems and functioning.
Suboxone dependence often requires a medically monitored detox period to keep the user comfortable and helps protect them from continuing their drug use in an attempt to stave off the onset of withdrawal.