If you, or someone you know, is recovering from opioid addiction — odds are that you’ve heard about suboxone at some point. Suboxone is a powerful prescription drug used in opioid addiction treatment. It can save lives, but there is a lot of misinformation floating around about this medication. These falsehoods could deter someone from getting the opioid treatment help they need. We’re setting the record straight and busting five of the most common suboxone myths.
5 Wildly Incorrect Suboxone Myths
Before understanding what suboxone isn’t, let’s talk about what it is. Suboxone is the brand name of the generic buprenorphine and naloxone combination, used as part of MAT, medication-assisted treatment.
Naloxone, as many know, is a medication that rapidly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. It’s an opioid agonist, a no-brainer component of an opioid addiction treatment medication. It is the other component of suboxone that is the source of most of this drug’s controversy.
Buprenorphine is an effective painkiller used to treat both acute and chronic pain and is used in a variety of medications. In suboxone, buprenorphine is the main active ingredient and allows the drug to help manage opioid cravings and reduce the intensity and duration of opioid withdrawal effects. How is suboxone able to do this? Because, like most other prescription painkillers used today, buprenorphine is an opioid.
Despite buprenorphine being an extremely weak opioid with nowhere near the strength of its counterparts like fentanyl, heroin, or even morphine, this fact is the source of a hotbed of confusion, concern, and misunderstandings within the addiction recovery community.
- Suboxone is easy to abuse and overdose
There is some truth to this statement, even with suboxone being a substantially weak opioid. Suboxone abuse isn’t impossible or unheard of. However, unlike many other prescription drugs, suboxone isn’t something where a person might accidentally get high or take so much as to cause an overdose. The only way either of these circumstances is possible is through deliberate misuse, either by taking a far higher dosage than prescribed or by administering the medication non-prescribed.
Another reason why this is a bunk idea: Suboxone contains naloxone, an intentional choice that was meant to deter abuse by causing withdrawal symptoms when the drug is taken in a way other than prescribed. When taken as directed, Suboxone is less likely to be abused compared to full opioid agonist medications.
- Suboxone is “replacing one addiction for another”
Buprenorphine, the main ingredient in suboxone, is a partial opioid agonist. This allows suboxone to bind to the same receptors in the brain as other opioids, fulfilling any craving, but with virtually no ‘high.’ That rush of good feelings is the root of most addictions; without that, suboxone lacks the main mechanism to become habit-forming.
Using suboxone in opioid addiction treatment is not replacing one addiction or opioid for another, but rather, an opioid-receptor-approved replacement that allows for the safe weaning off of opioid addiction.
- Suboxone shouldn’t be used long-term
The length of treatment with suboxone is determined on a case-by-case basis and can be different for each individual. Factors such as the severity of the opioid use disorder and the patient’s readiness for change can influence the duration of treatment. While some people may need to take Suboxone for an extended period of time, others may be able to taper off the medication after a few months.
- Using Suboxone alone doesn’t count as treatment
Suboxone is a highly effective treatment option for opioid use disorder. Because of how multifaceted and complex addiction is, medication alone usually isn’t the answer. Experts agree that any treatment approach should be complemented by other forms of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, individual counseling, and support groups.
However, many people using suboxone are in the maintenance phase of their treatment. They have gone through a program or detox and may have already addressed the psychological issues and long-term use of suboxone to manage the more physical suboxone side effects.
- You aren’t abstinent if you’re taking Suboxone
Technically yes, buprenorphine is a partial opioid, meaning that suboxone is an opioid. However, not all opioids were created equally. More importantly, the difference in intent between taking a prescription opioid and abusing an opioid recreationally is what matters — not fitting into a recovery standard that originated in the 1930s during the rise of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Still have questions? Talk to a professional
Suboxone has so many benefits for someone in opioid addiction treatment. However, taking it without close supervision from a medical professional is not recommended. Find a suboxone clinic near you today.