Suboxone is a common prescription medication for opioid addiction. It allows withdrawal symptoms to be more manageable.
It may be the exchange of one drug for another, but suboxone is far less dangerous than drugs like heroin or pain pills like oxycodone. When taken as directed by a doctor specifically to help get off such drugs, it can be quite helpful to get people free from addiction.
While suboxone may be great for helping people get off the harsher opioids, it still has some risks and side effects. The risks increase if someone abuses or misuses the drug.
What Are the Side Effects of Suboxone?
Suboxone’s main ingredient is buprenorphine, which is a partial opioid agonist that acts upon the same opioid receptors in the brain that the harder drugs like heroin do. The difference is that it doesn’t act as strong. It does not produce the intense high, but it does activate the receptor, making withdrawal symptoms more tolerable.
Common side effects of Suboxone include:
- Increased sweating
- Muscle aches
- Erratic heartbeat
- Difficulty concentrating
- Numbness in the mouth
- Trouble sleeping
- Respiratory depression (slower breathing)
According to experts, the most concerning side effect is respiratory depression. Those that abuse or misuse Suboxone are more susceptible to this side effect and should consult medical treatment immediately if it occurs.
How to Decrease Suboxone Side Effects
Suboxone is a great drug for those going through opioid detox but using it long-term may cause some psychological or physical issues. Not every doctor understands the ins and outs of suboxone. They prescribe it for those trying to get off opioids but don’t educate their patients or set them up on a timeline. Many of these people will remain on Suboxone for months or years, which can cause medical problems.
To decrease suboxone side effects, take as prescribed by a doctor who understands Suboxone. Also, it’s best to only use Suboxone as a short-term solution to opioid addiction. Some people who have used it to get off heroin or opioid pain pills report that when they finally did try to get off Suboxone, the withdrawal effects were worse than the initial opioid detox.
The Length of Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms
Yes, getting off heroin or pain pills may cause intense withdrawal symptoms for five days or so, but Suboxone withdrawal can last weeks or months. Some say that the psychological withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety or depression, can linger on for a long time, creating challenges in all aspects of life.
It’s helpful to work closely with an addiction recovery specialist when using Suboxone for opioid addiction recovery. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially about the timeframe that the physician typically uses for opioid addiction recovery.
In addition to using Suboxone for treating opioid addiction, there are other therapies that can be used to help the patient recover from addiction. While some may do fine only using Suboxone to treat opioid addiction, others may benefit from added therapies, such as:
- Counseling – There are counseling therapies quite helpful with addiction recovery, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Motivational Interviewing (MI). Many treatment centers have therapists on staff that offer such counseling. Family therapy can be helpful as well, as addiction tends to affect everyone in the family one way or another.
- 12 Step Programs – Many patients report that attending a 12 Step Program like Narcotics Anonymous helps them navigate their sobriety path.
- Outpatient Treatment – There are outpatient treatment programs where you attend a certain number of sessions per week to work on addiction recovery. The number of hours will vary depending on the particularities of each person.
Recovering from Opioid Addiction
While it is true that opioid addiction is at an all-time high, it’s also true that it’s treatable in a variety of ways. Harm reduction methods like Suboxone treatment have helped many people get off the harsher opioids like heroin, Oxycodone, OxyContin, and more. The side effects associate with Suboxone tends to be viewed as much less daunting, as long as the treatment does not go on for years and years.
Of course, there are some people who abuse Suboxone or don’t take it as prescribed. Or, they may not be ready to fully step up to the “recovery plate”. In these instances, the chances of long-term recovery decrease.
Struggling with Opioid Addiction?
If you’re struggling with opioid addiction, you don’t have to try to quit on your own. Whether you try Suboxone or another type of therapy, the reality is that treatments are out there for your benefit. Ask your doctor or treatment specialist about medications like Suboxone. Get the facts on side effects and how long treatment lasts.
Reach out for help today.
This blog post has been reviewed for medical accuracy by Paul Leonard, MD.