|Naloxone and Buprenorphine
|Opioid antagonist (naloxone); mixed opioid
|Works by blocking the effects of opioids and by preventing
the withdrawal symptoms caused by stopping them
Suboxone is a combination drug used for the treatment of opioid dependence/addiction. After long term use of opioid drugs or other such substances for recreational purposes, the human body tends to get used to it. This mental and/or physical dependence is treated by Suboxone.
It is a combination of naloxone and buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is classified as mixed opioid agonist-antagonists. It helps prevent withdrawal symptoms caused by stopping other opioids, whereas naloxone acts as an opioid antagonist. It works to block the effect of opioids and in so doing, it can even cause severe opioid withdrawal on injection. To avoid such withdrawal, it is advised to take naloxone by mouth, by placing it in the cheek pouch or under the tongue. The combination of naloxone with buprenorphine is intended also to prevent the misuse (injection) and abuse of the medication. Independently, buprenorphine is also used for the treatment of different types of acute and chronic pain.
With proper prescription and guidelines, Suboxone is used as part of a complete treatment programme for cases of drug abuse. These include different steps such as compliance monitoring of patients, their counselling, psychosocial support, behavioral contract and lifestyle changes, among other things.
Suboxone is prescribed to those that have an addiction or substance abuse problem related to opioids. Being an opioid drug itself, Suboxone is a prescription recommended for use only after any medical professional advises you so.
Dosage and Effects
Suboxone tablets are taken sublingually. For perfect dosage, follow the instructions as provided by your physician. They may provide you with a guide to help you with beginning the medication or after you get a refill.
On taking the tablet as part of a treatment programme, Suboxone is used to reduce and check withdrawal symptoms after the use of an opioid is decreased or stopped. It is only prescribed for treatment in people who are addicted to short-acting opioids, such as morphine, codeine, heroin and oxycodone.
Use of Suboxone is recommended only once the effects of these opioids begin to wear off and when the withdrawal symptoms start.
However, this medication (buprenorphine-naloxone) in larger amounts, or for a longer duration than prescribed can cause severe harm, especially to a child or to someone using it without a given prescription. Suboxone is only recommended on prescription, and abuse can cause harm.
Being an opioid combination medication, it needs to be taken with caution because of its addictiveness. On the other hand, some commonly occurring side effects of Suboxone include drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, stomach ache and constipation. These usually subside with regular, organized administration.
Exercise, drink enough water and increase your intake of dietary fibres to prevent the occurrence of constipation. You may need to use a laxative later. Get in touch with your doctor regarding the same.
Some other common side effects also include:
- Insomnia (trouble sleeping),
- Fever and sweating,
- Diarrhea, and
- Opioid withdrawal symptoms (body aches, rapid heart rate, abdominal cramps, etc.)
In case of dizziness or feeling lightheaded, don’t get up too fast. Getting up slowly after sitting or lying down can help overcome the risk of falling.
However, buprenorphine-naloxone combination can also cause more severe effects, which include:
- Weakness or fatigue,
- Severe allergic reaction,
- Breathing issues (shallow breathing, noisy breathing, etc.)
- Weak pulse and slow heart rate,
- Unusual thoughts or behaviour,
- Agitation, anxiety and depression,
- Abuse and dependence,
- Hormone problems,
- Severe withdrawal symptoms,
- Liver damage
In the case of appearance of any severe symptoms, you must rush to your doctor. Get proper medical care to avoid any fatalities.
Suboxone being an opioid drug, the users are prone to getting addicted to it. To decrease the chances of becoming dependent on the drug, it is advised to follow the prescription schedule.
It’s important that you discuss with your doctor about your previous and ongoing medications, if any. While the Suboxone (buprenorphine-naloxone) combination drug isn’t very much affected by other drugs, some of your other medication might still affect how it functions in your body. These include other narcotic medications, such as a pain or prescription cough medicine, and sedatives, like Valium and Xanax, among other drugs. Talk to the doctor about any side effects or any issues regarding the administration of the drug that might be bothering you. There’s a good chance that all the side effects aren’t a result of your dose.
Suboxone, like many other opioid drugs, gets secreted into human milk. Its effects can be gravely for a fetus or an infant and so pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised against the same.
In the circumstance of missing a dose of Suboxone, it is advised to skip that dose and to get back to the regular prescribed dosing schedule. The doubling of doses can cause severe harm.
Don’t stop Suboxone administration without being advised so by the doctor. Stopping the medication abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms and may not treat your addiction completely.
Finally, it’s suggested that every safety precaution be followed and to keep in touch with the physician just in case any issues or unexpected changes show up.
Proper storage of Suboxone tablets is recommended to keep it effective for a long duration. Leaving the package uncared for also determines how the medicine affects you and might thus alter the results. For smart and safe keeping of the drugs, follow these steps:
- Store at a controlled room temperature, between 15° to 30°C, and away from moisture and too much or an unnecessary amount of light.
- Keep the tablets in a safe place, and preferably in their original packaging. Keep out of reach of children, since it can create serious health issues for them. The effects of Suboxone haven’t been examined on children yet, and so, they could be hazardous.
- The tablets usually come in blister packs, which aren’t child-resistant. Use child-resistant closure as per the requirement.
- All opioids are liable to abuse because of their addictive properties and are severely misused by both the general public and healthcare workers, so, these should be handled in accordance with that.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is Suboxone used for?
Suboxone is a combination medicine, containing buprenorphine and naloxone, and is used for treating opioid dependence or addiction in people. Used as part of a complete treatment programme for cases of drug abuse, it is prescribed only to people who have been on short-acting opioids, such as morphine, codeine, heroin and oxycodone.
Does Suboxone make you sleepy?
It could. That’s because among the few common side effects of Suboxone is insomnia. So, while you may not be able to sleep at night, there’s a chance you’ll feel dizzy and drowsy during the day. However, it’s also conveniently treatable, and you should talk to your doctor if this side effect appears.
Can Suboxone be used for pain?
While Suboxone is often used off-prescription as a pain medication, it is not classified for the treatment of pain. Using it without proper permission from any medical professional can even be harmful. Moreover, being an opioid medication, it can also cause mental and/or physical dependence, which must be avoided.
Can you take Suboxone when you’re pregnant?
You’re advised not to. Taking Suboxone (buprenorphine-naloxone) while you’re pregnant may cause severe, life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the new-born.