Opiates, also referred to as narcotics, are sedative, addictive substances that are used for pain and illegal consumption. After years of consistent use, individuals develop tolerance. This triad of addiction, dependency and tolerance creates significant psychosocial issues which make it difficult to focus and remain responsible and dependable, which are key factors in maintaining employment and family responsibilities.
Methadone has become widely accepted in managing opiate withdrawal from illicit drugs like heroin. However, even though it is safer than the alternative, it carries its own problems with “brain receptors” and a plethora of side effects on the rest of the body’s organ systems. An alternative to Methadone for opiate withdrawal is Suboxone©.
Suboxone© (buprenorphine and naloxone) is the first opioid approved for the treatment of opioid dependency in an outpatient setting. As such, patients addicted to opioids may now choose to be treated as an outpatient instead of a hospital setting or going to a Methadone clinic.
How Suboxone© Works
Buprenorphine, which is the active opioid in Suboxone©, binds to the empty opioid receptors in both pain and addiction centers of the brain, thereby suppressing withdrawal symptoms and decreasing cravings. When the opioid receptor is bound by buprenorphine, patients do not feel the “amped up” feeling that they get when taking heroin, OxyContin or Vicodin. Suboxone© is placed under the tongue where it is dissolved and taken into two main veins and quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. This action prevents withdrawal symptoms both mentally and physically and thereby reduces the risk of relapse back to “using” opiates again.
Methadone treatment requires a daily visit to the clinic and many times dosage increases over time where the patient now develops dependency and tolerance to the Methadone. Methadone can also be abused by individuals in combination with other drugs including other opiates like heroin, oxycodone and benzodiazepines, which could cause a fatal overdose.
Both Methadone and Suboxone© can be weaned off slowly or used for long term maintenance therapy, but Suboxone© treatment differs from Methadone treatment in several important ways. Firstly, a prescription for Suboxone© is obtained from a certified/licensed physician prescriber and can be filled at any pharmacy. Secondly, because Suboxone© is a partial opiate agonist with long duration of action, the potential for abuse and overdose are much less than with Methadone. Also, Suboxone© is easier to wean off from than Methadone.
Suboxone© treatment starts with the induction phase, which begins when the individual is in mild withdrawal after cessation of opiates. A slow, escalating dose is used to fill the opioid receptors to maintain doses of 12mg to 15mg per day. Maintenance is continued until the individual is mentally ready to commence weaning from Suboxone.
Who Should Take Suboxone©?
Suboxone© should be considered for anyone addicted to opiates. At The Industrial Athlete, patients from all walks of life – from the professional/executive to the young school aged heroin addict can benefit from Suboxone© therapy. Suboxone© offers hope for all those who suffer from opiate addiction.
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