Opioids, a type of narcotics, are prescribed for pain relief and can help as part of a chronic pain treatment plan. But if you take them long-term, you can become dependent on the drugs, even as they become less and less effective at controlling pain.
Opioids also have the potential for abuse if you don’t take them as ordered, and you could become addicted. But if you stop taking them cold-turkey, the withdrawal symptoms can be their own nightmare.
That’s where Suboxone® comes in. This medication, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, helps treat opioid dependence and addiction by blocking the effects of the medications on your brain.
Since Suboxone remains in your system longer than the opioids, it also helps reduce the side effects common with opioid withdrawal.
At Coastal Pain Medicine, pain management specialist Dr. Patrick Brennan and his team successfully use Suboxone to help our patients in Pompano Beach, Florida, safely recover from dependence and addiction.
Dr. Brennan is certified to treat patients who are seeking help for opioid abuse disorder, including using a Suboxone treatment plan. In addition, he provides safer, alternative treatment options to help you manage chronic pain. Here’s why Suboxone might be right for you.
Buprenorphine, originally developed in the 1970s, has weak opioid properties and was approved as a safer alternative to other opioid pain medications. In 1985, it was approved for use as a painkiller.
Doctors recognized that buprenorphine was not only safe, but it was also potentially a more accessible alternative to methadone, the primary medication used to treat opioid addiction at the time. Further research showed that combining buprenorphine with naloxone reduces the possibility of abuse of buprenorphine itself.
The resulting combination, now called Suboxone, received FDA approval in October 2002 to treat opioid addiction.
Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, an opioid medication that produces weak opioid effects. It reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings without producing the strong reaction characteristic of other opioids such as heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. It, therefore, allows you the time to wean off the drug you’ve been taking with minimal discomfort.
Buprenorphine also binds strongly with the natural opioid receptors in your brain, preventing other opioids from docking and producing a high.
The risk of abuse and of accidental overdose is lower than for other opioids because your opioid receptors are only minimally active if the drug is bound. This also reduces the potential for shallow or slow breathing characteristic of an opioid overdose.
Naloxone is an opioid receptor antagonist medication. Though it’s used on its own to reverse opioid overdoses, it’s included in Suboxone to discourage intentional misuse of buprenorphine, which would cause the rapid onset of withdrawal in opioid-dependent individuals.
The World Health Organization lists buprenorphine as an essential medicine and as an indispensable tool for helping those with opioid use disorder to ease moderate-to-severe opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings. It also comes with:
While Suboxone has been proven to help with opioid addiction withdrawal symptoms, it’s generally used as part of a comprehensive treatment approach that also includes:
When Dr. Brennan prescribes Suboxone to treat your opioid addiction, you can expect to remain on the drug for an extended period of time. Treatment usually lasts six months to a year, but it may be longer, depending on your needs.
We also tailor your treatment plan to include effective therapeutic options for managing both acute and chronic pain — without additional risk for addiction.
If, for whatever reason, you’ve become dependent on or addicted to any form of opioids, Suboxone might be the treatment you need to ease your withdrawal symptoms and finally get free.
To learn more and to set up a consultation with Dr. Brennan, call the Coastal Pain Medicine office at 954-284-0996, or request an appointment online with us today.