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Is Suboxone an Effective Addiction Treatment?

Is Suboxone an Effective Addiction Treatment?

Opioid addiction is a growing problem in the United States. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2.1 million people suffered from opioid addiction in the United States in 2016. This addiction can lead to severe physical and mental symptoms, such as long-term depression, dependence, and overdose.

Many treatment options are available to help people overcome opioid addiction. One of the most popular treatment drugs is Suboxone. However, many myths surround Suboxone and its addictive side effects. While Suboxone addiction is a potential problem, treatment centers can monitor side effects in a safe environment.

What Is Suboxone?

Suboxone is the brand name of a prescription medication that helps alleviate opioid addiction symptoms and aids in the sobriety process. This medication can assist in recovery from both illegal opioids, such as heroin, and prescription opioids, such as oxycodone and Dilaudid.

There are two main ingredients in Suboxone: naloxone and buprenorphine. Naloxone helps reverse the effects of opioids while buprenorphine blocks opiate receptors, which helps reduce a person’s urge to use drugs. However, both substances are diminished opioids. Naloxone could trigger unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, but buprenorphine helps balance out the effects.

Some patients still report experiencing withdrawal symptoms while on Suboxone. These symptoms can include:

  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Fatigue
  • Strong drug cravings
  • Sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings

However, proper medical treatment can monitor and alleviate these effects, making the withdrawal process as comfortable as possible. Due to Suboxone’s poor reputation, many people develop misconceptions about its use in addiction treatment.

Myth #1: Suboxone Is a Drug and Is No Better Than Heroin

Since Suboxone is a drug and a form of opiate, many people believe that patients on Suboxone are merely replacing one drug with another. However, all drugs do not have the same level of risk attached to them. Some drugs are significantly more dangerous and cause death in small amounts, such as fentanyl or heroin. Suboxone is a drug that keeps people away from these deadly outcomes.

Myth #2: Suboxone Is Addictive and Many People Abuse It

Just like any opiate, people can abuse Suboxone. However, Suboxone is only a “partial” agonist and a diminished opiate. As a result, Suboxone does not produce the same high that other opiates, such as heroin and codeine, can. Many people use Suboxone to manage withdrawal and to lessen their dependence on a dangerous drug. In addition, Suboxone creates dependence, not an addiction – and dependence is common in many medications.

Myth #3: You Can Overdose On Suboxone

Unlike heroin and prescription opiates, it is very difficult to overdose on Suboxone without other substances. Suboxone is a partial opiate agonist, which means that there is a limit to how much the brain’s opioid receptors can react to Suboxone. With this medication, a patient does not experience the slowed breathing that can cause heroin overdose death. When people overdose on Suboxone, it is often because they use another drug with it.

Myth #4: Suboxone Is Not a “Real” Form of Recovery

Many people believe that Suboxone is not a true form of recovery and the only way to overcome an opioid addiction is to avoid opioid substances altogether. However, abstinence-only and cold turkey approaches to addiction recovery are not effective. Suboxone is part of a scientifically proven method of using certain medications to regulate the brain to reduce opioid dependence. Opioid addiction is not merely a habit that avoidance can break. Addiction is a medical condition and Suboxone provides treatment for it.

Myth #5: You Can Only Take Suboxone for a Short Period of Time

Many people believe that, since Suboxone is apparently addictive, its long-term use can lead to severe consequences. However, there is no medical evidence that patients should only take Suboxone for a short amount of time. Patients can use Suboxone for as long as their medical team deems necessary to overcome opiate addictions.

Myth #6: Suboxone Trades One Addiction for Another

Many people do not understand the difference between addiction and dependence. A person can be dependent on multiple types of drugs, from antidepressants to blood pressure medications to treatments for epilepsy. If a person stops using these medications, they will experience a form of withdrawal. This is similar to the withdrawal effects of Suboxone. Addiction changes brain chemistry and causes cravings that lead to dangerous, compulsive behavior – on Suboxone, your cravings for opiates decrease.

Myth #7: Suboxone Is More Dangerous Than Heroin

Suboxone is nowhere near as dangerous as heroin, which causes thousands of deaths in the United States every year. Suboxone is a legal medication, while heroin is an illegal substance punishable by years in prison. Suboxone does not impair cognitive functions and physical health like heroin can. Suboxone does not sedate, intoxicate, or interfere with your daily activities. Suboxone does not produce the effects that heroin does and its high level of regulation ensures that it is not dangerous to your health, unlike heroin.

Myth #8: Suboxone Alters Your Mood and You Cannot Be Sober On It

Many substances can alter your mood: from cigarettes to energy drinks to a candy bar or your morning cup of coffee. Suboxone is no different. However, due to Suboxone’s opiate classification, many people equate mood-altering medication with drugs. This is not a fair comparison; while Suboxone alters your mood to help alleviate cravings for opiates, dangerous drugs alter your brain and cause dangerous consequences.

Seek Help for Opiate Addiction Today


Are you struggling with opiate addiction in Maryland? Help is available at Maryland Recovery. Seeking professional treatment can help alleviate your symptoms and help you safely detox from the substance. In addition, our holistic treatment program provides therapies and enrichment activities to help you heal emotionally and spiritually as well as physically.


Contact Maryland Recovery today to learn more about how to enroll in our opioid treatment program in Bel Air, Maryland.

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  • "I am certain that this program helped save my life. I was provided with an opportunity to learn how to live a sober life. I learned to be responsible and accountable for my behavior. When practicing the principles of the program and remaining willing to grow on this journey, I experience a freedom I never knew, but always wanted."
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