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Is Suboxone Safe?

The use of maintenance medications is a divisive topic in the recovery community. On one hand, continued use of suboxone maintains one’s addiction to opioids and may diminish one’s quality of life. On the other hand, there is evidence that the use of suboxone can help protect against overdose and allow one to maintain employment and relationships in ways that are not possible when using illicit drugs. However, reports vary over the safety of suboxone, especially in regards to long-term use.

Suboxone is a prescription medication that combine buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic opioid partial agonist that can stave off withdrawal symptoms of opioid addiction. According to The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment, “This means that, although Buprenorphine blocking opioid receptors in the brain, thereby blocking the effects of opioid agonists (e.g., heroin, morphine).” Suboxone is an effective choice to maintain safety for a person suffering from opioid addiction who is unable or unwilling to go through the detoxification process.

One of the attractive things about suboxone is the belief that it is not abusable. However, new research points that the opposite may be true. Dr. Joshua Lee, an associate professor at New York University School of Medicine’s departments of medicine and population health, explained in a 2017 CBS News article by Steven Reinberg entitled Two Meds to Treat Opioid Addiction Equally Safe, Effective in Study, “The newer drug, naltrexone, was as effective in keeping patients off heroin, preventing relapse and overdose, as buprenorphine.” However, he points out that suboxone also has its downsides. The medication acts like an opioid and patients can become dependent and face withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking it.

A 2018 CBS News article by Alan Mozes, entitled Kids Overdosing on Meds Meant to Fight Opioid Addiction, explained that between 2007 and 2016, “more than 11,000 emergency calls were made to U.S. poison control centers after a child or teen was exposed to buprenorphine, a powerful prescription medication that helps wean people off opioids.” Not all of the calls were accidental. About 75% of the calls involving children aged 13 to 19 were from intentional use of the drug. Sadly, four of these resulted in death.

While it is helpful to have a medication that can lessen or prevent withdrawal symptoms, a person’s brain does not heal from physical dependence or addiction until they achieve sobriety. Suboxone is effective as a detox aid, but in long term use it can maintain one’s addiction and prevent them from achieving the happiness, joyousness, and freedom that results from achieving and maintaining sobriety.

Your life doesn’t have to be held back by the chains of addiction. You can make the courageous decision to seek help now and begin building a brighter future in sobriety. Resilient House, a treatment facility located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, understands the tolls addiction can take on your mind, body, and spirit. The caring and compassionate staff at Resilient House are ready to address all the aspects of substance dependency to bring you to a state of wholeness that supports long-term sobriety. For information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431