Suboxone is a maintenance drug like Subutex, but instead of being just buprenorphine, Suboxone also contains naloxone. This new medication reverses the effects of opioids, and it has been particularly praised for helping emergency responders save people suffering from narcotic overdose.
Naloxone has a short half-life, so it typically does not last as long as other opioid drugs, but it will temporarily prevent these drugs from binding to the opioid receptors in the brain, so the person taking narcotics does not feel high. Suboxone was originally approved in 2002, like Subutex, but was approved in a different dose in 2010. Meanwhile, Subutex has been discontinued.
Who Needs Suboxone?
Suboxone was developed as a more foolproof maintenance therapy for people struggling to overcome addiction to narcotic drugs. Buprenorphine, as with Subutex, binds to the opioid receptors in the brain to ease withdrawal symptoms; in Suboxone, taken orally as prescribed, the buprenorphine should be the first medication to kick in. However, if the person attempts to crush the pills and inject or snort them, in order to get high, the naloxone in Suboxone should block the binding of buprenorphine to those receptors, so the person does not experience any level of intoxication and instead begins to experience withdrawal symptoms.
How Is It Supposed to Be Used?
As a maintenance therapy, Suboxone should be taken regularly, as prescribed. The doctor and patient will work together to reduce the dosage, slowly over time, so the person safely ends their physical dependence on narcotics. It is not designed for “as-needed” use or to overcome cravings. It should only be taken in conjunction with a doctor’s oversight.
How Is It Abused?
Despite the addition of naloxone, some people find ways to abuse Suboxone. People who have lost their tolerance to opioids or who have not yet developed a tolerance to opioids can experience a mild high if they take Suboxone. Also, people who receive this medication as a maintenance therapy may attempt to inject or snort the drug in large enough doses to bypass the naloxone. Naloxone has a shorter half-life than buprenorphine, so eventually the buprenorphine may kick in if there is enough of the drug in the person’s system.