Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can be accomplished with a variety of medications, but there may be one brand name you’ve heard more than any other: Suboxone. Suboxone is a combination of two drugs - buprenorphine and naloxone - that work chemically to decrease the severity of withdrawal symptoms and reduce a patient’s dependence on opioids in the long term.
But how does one medication accomplish this daunting task? What does it look like? Is this the only option for MAT, and is it necessary for every patient to fight an opioid addiction? The addiction treatment team at Recovery Care can answer these questions with four essential facts about Suboxone:
1. Suboxone Blocks the “Opioid Effect”
Suboxone is part of a family of medications used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) called “opioid antagonists,” which is the opposite of “opioid agonists” such as heroin, morphine and oxycodone. When you use an opioid agonist, the drug activates a pain-blocking receptor in your brain, altering your perceptions of pain and releasing endorphins that mimic pleasure. This is known as the “opioid effect.” When you make an opioid antagonist like Suboxone part of your recovery, the medication will negate the effects of any opioid by preventing them from activating those pain receptors. This helps to manage your cravings and reduce symptoms of withdrawal.
2. Suboxone is Less Habit-Forming Than Methadone
Since the early 2000s, addiction treatment specialists have preferred to prescribe Suboxone instead of its MAT predecessor, methadone. Because Suboxone was developed with the express intention of fighting opioid addiction, the medication was engineered to have a far lower risk of dependency than that of methadone. Additionally, the side-effects of Suboxone are usually less severe and tend to be physical instead of mental.
3. Suboxone Comes in Two Forms
Suboxone was designed to be easy for patients in recovery to take. It comes in two forms: a tablet and a sublingual film, both of which dissolve in your mouth. Essentially, both of these methods offer the same results. However, tablets are sometimes less expensive than the film, and some patients feel they are more discreet. On the other hand, some patients prefer the film due to their ability to taper their dose in smaller and smaller increments when their recovery goals involve weaning off the medication entirely. This practice should never be done without guidance from your doctor.
4. Suboxone is Just One Part of Recovery
While medication-assisted treatment is an amazing option for helping patients beat addiction, it shouldn’t be the only element of your recovery plan. A complete MAT plan combines a carefully-monitored medication regimen with substance abuse counseling and regular primary care to keep your mind and body in fighting health. For some patients in recovery, Suboxone is not the right choice of medication. Some patients don’t even benefit from medication assistance at all. Every journey is unique, and your addiction treatment specialist is there to help you make educated decisions every step of the way.
If you think Suboxone or another form of medication-assisted treatment may be right for you, we can help. The team at Recovery Care will work with you to develop a personalized recovery plan that revolves around your needs and goals. Request an appointment today and take the first step toward being your best self!