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Understanding The Use Of Suboxone In Heroin Addiction Treatment

Sep 3, 2008
Let us see some details about Suboxone in the context of heroin addiction treatment and understand why it is considered to be a boon where opiate treatment is concerned.

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a formulation containing buprenorphine and naloxone. It is designed for opiate addiction treatment and is used predominantly in the treatment of heroin addiction. It is administered during heroin detox. It is not a full agonist opiate, which means that it is not much addictive to the person using it. That is the reason it is prescribed for outpatient heroin addiction treatment also.

How does Suboxone compare with Methadone?

Methadone is a very popular form of heroin detox treatment used in most parts of the world. In the US, the use of methadone dates back to at least three decades. However, the approval of Suboxone has been considered to be a great boon mainly because it overcomes most of the shortcomings of methadone treatment.

The following are some points which make clear why Suboxone is favored in comparison to methadone.

1. Suboxone is not as addictive as methadone. Methadone needs to be administered with careful precision. Any overstepping of dosage might trigger a withdrawal in the person when the methadone use is stopped. Since Suboxone is not a complete opiate agonist, it can be administered without this worry.

2. Methadone needs to be provided only under complete medical supervision. The preferable mode of methadone treatment is inpatient, but even if it is provided on an outpatient basis, the person will need to visit the treatment center on a daily basis for monitoring.

3. One of the best advantages of Suboxone over methadone is the presence of naloxone. Naloxone is a substance that produces revulsion for the medication in the person. It causes serious withdrawal symptoms as soon as it is consumed. Hence, the person refrains from consuming any more of Suboxone than is needed. This ensures that the person does not develop a Suboxone habit as a cover for the heroin addiction.

4. The other ingredient of Suboxone, buprenorphine, is actually the main principle of treatment. Buprenorphine is an opiate just as heroin is, but several times less addictive. It is much less addictive than methadone too. When it is introduced in the person's body, it triggers the same part of the brain that heroin triggers. Hence, as long as the person is consuming buprenorphine in the form of Suboxone, the person will not feel the urge for heroin. Methadone acts with the same principle, but it has the potential danger of replacing the heroin addiction with a methadone addiction. Buprenorphine, on the other hand, cannot be addictive when taken as Suboxone because of the presence of naloxone.

How is Suboxone supposed to be consumed?

Suboxone is a medication meant for oral consumption. It is meant to be kept on the tongue from where it gets automatically absorbed. The drug is meant for a daily therapy, but some people feel that one pill every alternate day is good enough to keep their heroin cravings at bay.

There is something noteworthy about the way Suboxone is meant to be consumed. When it is placed on the tongue, the buprenorphine amount in it gets completely absorbed. But the naloxone is present in a small quantity and it cannot be absorbed completely. Naloxone causes the revulsion for using Suboxone. This method of consumption ensures that a lot of naloxone does not enter the person's body and hence it can be easily consumed. If the person were to use some other way of consuming Suboxone, there was a chance that more of naloxone could enter their body and the person would get severe withdrawal. The amount that enters through this prescribed manner of consumption is just perfect for keeping the addiction at bay and also preventing withdrawal symptoms.

Is Suboxone a Maintenance Medication for Heroin Addiction Treatment?

Because Suboxone can keep the person's craving for heroin at bay, it is certainly a maintenance medication. People can be prescribed this medication after a heroin detox. They can also be allowed to switch over from methadone treatment to Suboxone treatment, but with a suitable gap to allow the body to come out of the methadone regularity.
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