Easing opioid dependence with Suboxone
Much like methadone, doctors use Suboxone to treat patients with a dependence on opioid products such as heroin and prescription painkillers. When it originally hit the market in the 1980s, doctors used it to treat pain. Though it has a similar chemical makeup to morphine, it does not give users the euphoric effects that other opioids do. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Suboxone for drug treatment as its success rate is on par with that of methadone with few health risks.
Suboxone combines buprenorphine and naloxone. While buprenorphine reacts in the brain the same way as other opioids, naloxone keeps users from experiencing a high. This way it allows patients to avoid withdrawals symptoms while still learning to live without the euphoric properties of opioids.
Suboxone is not recommended for pain management, and those with poor liver function should avoid this medication. Do not stop taking Suboxone or take more than prescribed without your doctor's permission. Because of the buprenorphine, it is still possible to experience withdrawal symptoms or overdose.
Mild to moderate side effects include:
- mouth and tongue pain, numbness, or discomfort
- digestion problems such as diarrhea and constipation
- extensive sweating
- swelling in the arms and legs
If you experience any of the following side effects, contact a medical professional immediately:
- extreme weakness or trouble breathing
- signs of decreased brain function such as slurred speech and blurred vision
- liver failure as indicated by GI distress, dark urine, clay-colored stool, etc.
- any symptoms of opioid withdrawal
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