Is Suboxone Addictive? 

If you’ve ever wondered ‘Is Suboxone Addictive’ then you’re not alone. Many who learn about this medication are concerned about the risks of giving someone with an addiction a new medication.

While no medication is without its risks, especially those used to treat withdrawals, it’s important to avoid making judgments without having all the facts. Knowing more about Suboxone’s chemical makeup, its purpose, its effects, and the risks can give you the tools you need to come to an informed opinion.

What Is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a prescription medication, often used to treat opioid dependency and addiction. Usually prescribed as part of a comprehensive integrated treatment plan, Suboxone is used in medication-assisted treatment to reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Suboxone can be used in place of other more habit-forming medications, such as methadone or naltrexone. However, it is important that Suboxone is always used in conjunction with additional treatments such as therapy and social work interventions.

Is Suboxone a Narcotic?

Yes, Suboxone is classed as a narcotic because it contains the medication buprenorphine, which is an opioid derivative (explained more below). ‘Narcotic’ is a term which typically refers to opioid drugs and opioid derived medications. This includes heroin, methadone, fentanyl, opium, and codeine among others.

Some people may feel resistant towards the idea of prescribing one narcotic (such as Suboxone) to replace another (such as heroin). However, it is important to remember that Suboxone is a medically prescribed withdrawal and addiction treatment medicine. While it is not without its risks, it ultimately serves to support addicts in rehabilitating their lives and withdrawing from more dangerous drugs.

How Does Suboxone Work?

Suboxone works mainly through its two active ingredients: Buprenorphine and Naloxone.

  • Buprenorphine: This drug binds to the same receptors in the brain as opioids like heroin or opium do. However, it only activates the receptor partially. This means that it alleviates the experiences of cravings and withdrawal symptoms without creating the same euphoric effects of full opioid drugs.
  • Naloxone: This drug is often used to reverse opioid overdoses. It also binds to opioid receptors like buprenorphine, however it blocks them instead of activating them. The inclusion of naloxone helps prevent people from misusing Suboxone tablets (explained more below).

In summary, Suboxone works by replacing opioids in the brain in order to only partially activate and, when necessary, block the receptors. This helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms and enable those recovering from addiction to stabilise their lives and focus on recovery.

Suboxone Abuse Signs

The signs of Suboxone abuse can be similar to those of other drugs and medications. However, some key indicators to look out for include:

  • Taking higher doses: Either by using higher doses of Suboxone than prescribed, or by using it more frequently than prescribed by a medical professional
  • Doctor Shopping: Most common in the United States of America, ‘doctor shopping’ refers to the practice of obtaining multiple prescriptions from multiple doctors or clinics for the same medication
  • Crushing or snorting: Suboxone should always be taken orally, under strict medical direction. Some abusers will crush and snort the suboxone in an attempt to get high
  • Poly-substance use: Using Suboxone in combination with alcohol or other drugs in an attempt to increase its effects
  • Missing appointments: Not going to medical appointments, not engaging in therapy, or avoiding implementing therapeutic interventions
  • Seeking a ‘high’: Instead of using Suboxone to recover from addiction, using it to try and get high or experience some form of euphoria
  • Isolation: Withdrawing from family, friends, and work, spending more time and becoming increasingly socially isolated
  • Secretive behaviours: Hiding their use, lying about their activities, or behaving in other strange or unexplainable ways

If you have any suspicions that someone you know may be abusing Suboxone, it is crucial to reach out for professional help and support. Early intervention is key in preventing long-term harms and maximising the chances for successful recovery.

Can You Get Addicted to Suboxone?

Yes, you can get addicted to Suboxone when not using it as prescribed, but it is not common. The chemical design of Suboxone is intended to avoid the development of dependency, however if mis-used it is possible.

The main way that Suboxone aims to deter mis-use is through the inclusion of naloxone, which becomes more active as the pill is crushed or injected. This can cause withdrawal symptoms by blocking the opioid receptors in the brain, making the user very sick.

For this reason, Suboxone is considered a relatively safe medication for treating opioid addiction. While use may result in a physical dependency, the mild effects of buprenorphine curb the risk of psychological addiction and compulsive use.

Suboxone is particularly preferable to other narcotic alternatives. It does not require individuals to be opiate-free prior to use like Naltrexone, and doesn’t create feelings of euphoria like morphine. It is also a partial agonist, unlike methadone which is a full agonist, which means that it has a much lower risk of overdose.

However no medication is without risks. Please do not attempt to use Suboxone or give Suboxone to others. Ensure it is used only as prescribed and under strict medical supervision by the person to whom it is prescribed.

How Long Does It Take To Get Addicted to Suboxone?

There is no short answer, or even clinically correct answer, to the question of how long it takes to become addicted to Suboxone. The timeline for developing an addiction is unique for every person and for every substance.

However, due to Suboxone’s chemical design as discussed above, there is typically a slower onset of tolerance and physical dependency than other opioid medication. Should a dependency develop, there are methods to reduce the dose over time to ensure a safe weaning process that minimises suffering for the user.

Summary – Is Suboxone Addictive?

In short, Suboxone is a potentially addictive narcotic. However, its safe use as prescribed by an experienced medical expert is a potential solution to aiding addicts in coming off of much more dangerous drugs.

There are multiple safeguards in place to prevent Suboxone from being a medication that encourages misuse. While the simple answer to ‘Is Suboxone Addictive’ may be ‘yes’, with the knowledge you now possess from reading this article, you can form a more nuanced and informed decision.

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