What Is Suboxone?
Suboxone is composed of two active ingredients, buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a partial opiate agonist and it binds to the same receptors in the brain that drugs like heroin or narcotic pain pills do. Since the buprenorphine binds to these same receptors, the brain doesn’t notice that you have stopped taking the drug of abuse, and you feel no withdrawal pains.
Buprenorphine is only a partial agonist though, and although it does bind to these same receptors, it offers little euphoria and little of the high that becomes so problematic with the abuse of pain pills or heroin. Users, once switched to buprenorphine, can once again participate normally in society, free from the pains of withdrawal and also free from intoxication.
The other active ingredient, naloxone, is incorporated to increase the safety of the drug by lowering the likelihood of abuse. Although buprenorphine does not readily induce a high, if injected in quantity and especially if combined with a tranquilizer type drug, it can be abused. Naloxone is an opiate antagonist, and if you take naloxone you cannot feel any opiate pleasure, and you go into immediate and very intense withdrawal.
Suboxone is taken sublingually (under the tongue) and when taken as directed your body does not absorb much of the naloxone, and you do not feel these withdrawal inducing effects; but were you to try to abuse it though injection administration, not only would you not get high, you would enter into severe detox pains almost immediately.
Because the drug has a much lower abuse potential than methadone, recovering addicts are not required to come to a clinic to take their dose under supervision, and can be prescribed a month's supply of the pills, purchasable at approved pharmacies.
A second advantage to Suboxone over methadone relates to the eventual need to detox off of the replacement opiate. Although methadone works well as an addiction treatment medication, the withdrawal pains of a methadone taper can be severe.
Suboxone is an opiate, and all opiates do require a period of eventual withdrawal, but the pains of withdrawal off of Suboxone are nowhere near as intense as heroin, and far easier than with methadone. The detox off of Suboxone seems to intensify the longer the medication is used, and if Suboxone can be used as a brief transitional medication, withdrawal pains are very manageable.
Page last updated Jun 22, 2012