For many people who suffered from prescription painkiller or heroin addiction, Suboxone offered a good chance at successful recovery. In fact, Suboxone was developed in a rare partnership between United States government and a British corporation specifically to treat the growing number of people addicted to opioids and unable to recover using methadone or other treatments. When it was introduced in 2002, Suboxone was widely thought to be a miracle drug for people struggling with opioid addiction.
Unfortunately, many people fell victim to the dark side of Suboxone: The drug itself can cause the same pleasurable effects as the drug it was meant to replace, making Suboxone almost as addictive as opioids. Its wide availability also contributes to the problem. Far too often, people battling addiction to heroin or painkillers end up trading that addiction for addiction to Suboxone.
Since being introduced in 2002, Suboxone has surpassed well-known drugs like Viagra in annual sales, exceeding over $1.5 billion in 2012. The rapid rise in sales of the drug is due to the explosion of opioid abuse, as well as the fact that it can be prescribed by private physicians and opioid treatment clinics.
- State Medicaid offices spent $857 million on Suboxone treatment over the three-year period ending in 2012.
- Over 1,350 of the almost 13,000 doctors authorized to prescribe Suboxone have been sanctioned for abusive practices including overprescribing the drug and practicing medicine while impaired, a rate about ten times higher than for other doctors.
- In 2011, over 21,000 emergency room visits were due to Suboxone abuse, a 500% increase in just five years.
- In 2012, doctors wrote over 9 million Suboxone prescriptions.
Symptoms of Suboxone Addiction
People who are using Suboxone as prescribed to manage symptoms from an opioid addiction should not show any unusual signs or symptoms. Chronic use, or abusing the drug by snorting it or taking higher than prescribed doses, will cause the brain to develop dependence on Suboxone. Once that happens, pleasure centers in the brain can only be activated when Suboxone is taken. The person becomes unable to experience pleasure through other activities like eating, visiting friends, or playing sports. Once the brain is dependent on Suboxone, the person is addicted to the drug.
Signs that someone is abusing Suboxone and may become addicted include:
- Slurred speech.
- Slowed breathing.
- Withdrawal from family and friends.
- Excessive need for privacy.
- Mood swings.
- Symptoms of withdrawal if the person does not take the drug.
Unlike some drugs, Suboxone addiction involves both physical and psychological dependence. Physical symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Anxiety and irritability.
- Unbearable cravings.
- Rapid breathing.
- Runny nose and excess salivation.
- Abdominal pain.
- Vomiting and diarrhea.
- Muscle aches.
- Loss of appetite.
- Muscle tremors and twitching.
The physical withdrawal symptoms are agonizing and uncomfortable, but they are not medically dangerous. Most people are unable to tolerate the withdrawal symptoms long enough to successfully quit the drug, and return to taking it. The best way to manage Suboxone withdrawal is through a medically supervised detox program at an inpatient rehab center. Doctors can prescribe medications to keep you comfortable during the physical withdrawal process.
Psychological, Social and Physical Effects of Suboxone Addiction
Suboxone can be a stealthy addiction for people who are using it to recover from another drug. Users convince themselves the drug can’t be addictive since it was prescribed to beat addiction. For people who take Suboxone recreationally, many are also convinced they cannot become addicted. Unfortunately, Suboxone is highly addictive, and the effects of addiction are similar to those of opioid addiction.
Psychologically, Suboxone addiction can produce:
- Impaired judgment.
- Inability to feel pleasure or happiness.
- Violent mood swings.
Physically, Suboxone affects the brain in both structure and function. The most significant effect on the brain affects the structures in the brain circuitry responsible for pleasure. The longer a person uses Suboxone, the more long-lasting these changes can be, meaning the addict’s ability to react normally to pleasure can be permanently affected. Chemically, the brain cannot handle the increased stimulation of the pleasure centers and compensates by shutting down receptors. This is what causes a person addicted to Suboxone to feel lifeless, miserable and depressed.
The social consequences of Suboxone addiction often include breakdown in family and personal relationships as the person spends more and more time and energy pursuing a high and enough Suboxone to achieve it. People also frequently perform poorly at work, or have frequent absences, which leads to job loss and financial consequences.
Other people suffering Suboxone addiction find themselves on the wrong side of the law when they must purchase the drug illegally when their habit is no longer satisfied prescription amounts.
Suboxone Addiction Treatment
Many people suffering from Suboxone addiction are very hesitant about seeking treatment, especially if they became addicted from taking the drug to beat an opioid addiction. They often feel hopeless and deceived—it’s hard to believe a drug prescribed to help them recover can result in another destructive addiction.
The good news is that people with Suboxone addiction can be very successful in an inpatient rehab setting like Cliffside Malibu. Medical professionals with comprehensive knowledge of addiction and withdrawal supervise the physical detox period and prepare the client for intense and personalized therapy. The facility is designed to be soothing and comfortable for clients in recovery; the private rooms with ocean views are equipped with Wi-Fi, which is available throughout the facility. Healthy gourmet meals and the services of a personal trainer encourage clients to improve their physical health. Most importantly, treatment is completely personalized to address each client’s unique recovery needs.
Getting Help With Suboxone Addiction
Suboxone addiction is a progressive condition that can result in any number of terrible things, including death by overdose. Don’t wait to get help for someone struggling to overcome addiction. If you suspect you may be addicted to Suboxone, or love someone who is, call Cliffside Malibu at 1-800-501-1988 to learn about treatment options. A life free of addiction is possible.