Last Updated on July 5, 2023 by Dr. Alberto Solà

The opioid epidemic is out of control. It has been for a while, and it continues to be. On average, 115 Americans die each day from opioid overdoses, and although there are many programs, organizations, and individuals that are working hard to decrease that number, it doesn’t seem to be getting better. The United States and the world, in general, are nowhere near getting this epidemic under control. However, even though addiction is overwhelming and is crippling to those it strikes, there is hope. Many people have broken free from their own addictions and set an example for those who are still struggling. The best way to recover from addiction is different for everyone. Some succeed based on will and therapy alone. Others are able to recover thanks to experiences with ibogaine. Still, others turn to drugs like Suboxone to help them on their journey. Some people look down upon Suboxone users, though. They believe that taking Suboxone is just trading one drug for another drug and that people who use Suboxone are not truly in recovery. Many also worry that Suboxone itself may be addictive as well. Is Suboxone addictive? How can people in recovery who use Suboxone avoid addiction to it if so? Is a Suboxone addiction safer than an addiction to opioids? Is Suboxone truly just trading one drug for another, and if so, should it be avoided even if it might save your life? Read on to learn more about Suboxone and for the answers to some of these questions. Suboxone is sometimes used to help people counteract the side effects of heroin, prescription painkillers, and other opioids. Yet suboxone does not provide a surefire solution to treat opioid addiction. To understand why this is the case, let’s take a look at five common myths surrounding the use of suboxone to treat opioid addiction.

What Is Suboxone?

You have probably heard of Suboxone. This is a brand name for a medication that combines two different drugs that work to help decrease opioid cravings. The two drugs are buprenorphine and naloxone, and the only application of this combination is to treat opioid use disorder. When people try to quit using prescription opioids or heroin, they will experience intense and painful withdrawals that are, for many, unbearable. However, when they take Suboxone on a regular basis, they are more easily able to manage these withdrawals. Suboxone helps to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal for about twenty-four hours. There are two ways to consume Suboxone. It is available as a tablet or in a dissolvable film form. Both of these delivery methods are dissolved in the patient’s mouth. Patients can take Suboxone at home independently; methadone, which works in a similar way to decrease withdrawal symptoms, must be administered at a clinic by medical staff.

How Suboxone Works

Buprenorphine is the primary ingredient in Suboxone. This medication is a partial opioid agonist; it works in a way that is similar to true opioids, without actually being an opioid. As a result, the effects of buprenorphine are similar to the effects of opioids but are far milder. Naloxone also plays an important role in the effectiveness of Suboxone. Many people are familiar with naloxone because it is used to treat people who overdose on opioids. In both situations, naloxone works as an opioid antagonist or blocker. In the case of Suboxone, naloxone makes it so Suboxone can only be used as directed. If a user tries to inject Suboxone in an attempt to experience more opioid-like effects, it won’t work. In fact, he or she will get very sick. Naloxone’s presence in Suboxone is to discourage users from doing that. When someone working on recovery is prescribed Suboxone and uses it, he or she will not feel the same as when he or she was using actual opioids. However, the mild, opioid-like effect is effective in helping to reduce cravings. This reduction in cravings and the reduction in withdrawal symptoms helps that person to avoid using and to avoid succumbing to relapse.

How Suboxone Helps People

Suboxone is effective in the short term, but patients must continue taking it for a long time for ultimate success. 49% of people who are prescribed Suboxone stay clean while taking the drug, according to one study, but the success rate drops to just 8.6% when they stop. This treatment can be very helpful for people wishing to break free from their addiction but it doesn’t work for everyone. People who choose this path must continue to take Suboxone for a long period for positive results. They may have to remain on Suboxone for six months or even a year or more before they can begin to taper off it under a doctor’s supervision slowly. If they try to wean themselves off it quickly, they will experience opioid cravings, and this could result in the use of actual opioids and a return to active addiction.

Myths About Using Suboxone to Treat Opioid Addiction

  1. When Suboxone is used for opioid addiction treatment, suboxone abuse is common. 

The risk of suboxone abuse is minimal in contrast to other opioids. However, a person may still become dependent on suboxone if it is used during an opioid addiction treatment program. Suboxone is no different from any other opioid in the sense that it can be abused by anyone at any time. Comparatively, the euphoric effects associated with suboxone are generally less than those associated with heroin, oxycodone, and other types of opiates. In some instances, people will abuse suboxone in the hopes of beating an addiction to heroin or other types of opioids as well.

  1. It is easy to overdose on Suboxone.

It is usually more difficult to overdose on suboxone in comparison to other opiates. Suboxone is a partial opiate receptor agonist, and there is a limit to how much suboxone activates opioid receptors in the brain. Although overdosing on suboxone may be less common than overdosing on other types of opiates, it is important to note that a person may overdose on any opiate – even suboxone. If a person uses suboxone in conjunction with sedatives like benzodiazepines, for example, he or she may be more susceptible than ever before to an opiate overdose.

  1. Suboxone should be taken for opioid addiction for a set period of time.

Much in the same way that no two people are exactly alike, how suboxone is incorporated into an opioid addiction treatment program varies based on the individual. The optimal opioid addiction treatment program is personalized based on a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being, how long he or she has been dealing with opioid addiction, the severity of his or her addiction, and other factors. By meeting with a doctor who understands all aspects of opioid addiction, an individual can get the support that he or she needs to overcome this addiction. If a doctor determines suboxone may help an opioid addict, he or she may prescribe suboxone for use at the start of an opioid addiction treatment program. In certain instances, doctors will recommend suboxone use for continuing treatment and recovery, too. Suboxone may be used to help an individual manage his or her opioid addiction withdrawal symptoms. But if a person experiences joint or muscle pain, irritability, insomnia, or other unwanted side effects due to suboxone use, he or she should consult with a doctor immediately. That way, this individual and his or her doctor can adjust an opioid addiction treatment program as needed.

  1. Suboxone is long-term opioid addiction treatment.

Suboxone typically blocks the cravings for opiates for about 24 hours. Therefore, doctors may instruct opioid addiction treatment patients to take suboxone at the same time each day. To date, there is no evidence that shows exactly how long suboxone should be used to help an opioid addict achieve the best-possible treatment results. If a person receives a suboxone prescription from a doctor, he or she should take suboxone as prescribed. This individual should also schedule regular doctor meetings to track his or her opioid addiction treatment results. People who use suboxone for long-term opioid addiction treatment may be susceptible to various long-lasting issues. Paranoia is one of the most common long-term side effects associated with suboxone. Additionally, for those who are dealing with mental illness, suboxone may cause their symptoms to worsen over time. 

  1. Suboxone alone can be used to treat opioid addiction.

Like any opiate, suboxone is unpredictable. Suboxone may help some people effectively control their opioid addiction withdrawal symptoms. Meanwhile, others may struggle to manage their opioid addiction, even if they use suboxone as part of an opioid treatment program. For those who are considering suboxone as part of opioid addiction treatment, it is critical to weigh the pros and cons associated with the opioid. If a person understands how suboxone works, this individual may be better equipped than ever before to determine if it can be used to help him or her overcome an opioid addiction. Ultimately, meeting with a doctor is key to treat an opioid addiction. A doctor will learn about a patient and develop a personalized treatment program based on the individual. He or she may prescribe suboxone in conjunction with therapy and other opioid addiction treatments. Plus, a doctor will monitor a patient’s progress.

The Suboxone Trade-Off

Many people suggest that people who use Suboxone are just trading one addiction for another. Depending on how you look at it, this could be viewed as true. Suboxone users are dependent on Suboxone just like opioid users become dependent on opioids. However, addiction and dependence are not entirely the same thing. Their meanings are actually different. When someone is dependent on a substance, they will feel physical cravings when that substance is removed from the equation. However, if they are addicted to a substance, their dependence is so out of control that they are actually controlled by the substance. Dependence can be overcome more easily than addiction. In time, addiction will kill a user. Suboxone gives people with opioid use disorder the option to step down from their addiction in a way that they can manage over time. For many, the availability of this option will save their lives. Medication-assisted addiction treatment does not work for everyone, but those who do benefit from it are immensely thankful that Suboxone helps to give them the strength and support to break free from their addiction to opioids.

Stay Hopeful

Opioid addiction is complex, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to address all opioid addictions, at all times. Doctors sometimes prescribe suboxone as part of an opioid addiction treatment program. But suboxone for opioid addiction offers no guarantees. In some cases, suboxone may actually cause paranoia and other long-term health issues for opioid addicts. Suboxone is just one of many different ways to try to get clean and sober after any length of opioid addiction. It is not the only way, but it has helped many people so far and it will continue to do so. Suboxone is not addictive and it may be the thing that will save your life or the life of a loved one. It is certainly worth a try. Today, ibogaine offers a viable alternative to treat opioid addiction without suboxone. Ibogaine therapy is designed to help individuals detox from high doses of opioids as quickly as possible. It has also been shown to help mitigate up to 95% percent of withdrawal symptoms associated with buprenorphine detox. Unlike Suboxone, which users will need to continue taking for a long period, ibogaine can be effective after a week at our facility. Clear Sky Recovery is one of the world’s leading ibogaine treatment center. It is located in beautiful Cancun, Mexico and we would love to talk to you about the ways that we can help you. Please contact us today.