Mixing Suboxone With Other Drugs
Suboxone is a prescription-only remedial drug that is used in the treatment of opioid addiction. Comprised of buprenorphine and naloxone, Suboxone is available in orange, hexagon tablets and sublingual film strips. Designed as both a craving suppressant and withdrawal reducer in the recovery from hard opioids, Suboxone has helped untold numbers of addicts readjust to chemical-free lives.
Suboxone rose to prominence during the early 2000s as a mild alternative to its parent drug buprenorphine. With naloxone added as an overdose preventative, Suboxone provides addicts with a form of buprenorphine that can easily be administered in outpatient and private settings. Unlike buprenorphine, which is used at various levels of intensity as both an analgesic and opioid replacement, Suboxone serves the latter purpose for addicts that seek less rigorous regimens of chemical recovery.
How Safe Is Suboxone for Personal Use?
One of the problems with buprenorphine administration is its high first-pass metabolism, which dilutes the power of standard doses before they even reach the circulatory system. As pointed out by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), buprenorphine can also be habit-forming for non-addicts due to its function as an agonist that produces many of the same feelings as hard opioids. While Suboxone produces similar feelings, the element of naloxone creates a more balanced bioavailability, which makes the drug safer for personal consumption. For these reasons and more, Suboxone is one of only two opioid addiction remedies – along with its sister drug Subutex – to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for usage outside of licensed opioid treatment facilities.
*What Are the Dangers of Suboxone?
Though dispensed as an anti-addiction medication, Suboxone can still pose dangers when misused. The FDA has compiled a guide on Suboxone with the following warnings:
- Suboxone can be lethal when consumed by children.
- Overdoses can lead to dizziness and breathing problems.
- Sudden discontinuance can lead to painful withdrawal symptoms.
- Suboxone should never be taken with alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers.
- Prescriptions of Suboxone cannot be legally sold or shared with third parties.
The FDA also stresses that Suboxone is not designed for usage on an occasional or as-needed basis.
The Chemical Process of Opioid Addiction
When a person continually uses a substance in order to maintain a particular sensation, an addiction has formed. Various sensations can become habit-forming, but illicit chemical addiction is one of the most dangerous habits afflicting the world today. Opioid drugs have accounted for untold millions of addiction cases over the past century due to the euphoric sensations they provide. Whether a user becomes hooked on illicit opioids like heroin and morphine or subscription forms like codeine and oxycodone, the results can be debilitating and potentially lethal if the problem remains untreated.
Heroin: The Queen Mother of Opioid Addiction
Of all the addictive opioids, the most dangerous is heroin. Users become addicted to heroin both mentally and physically because of the unique sensations provided by the drug, which include transcendent euphoria and blissful, mellow states. Once the drug has passed through the system, however, the pains of withdrawal set in, provoking feelings of fear, anxiety and depression among users. As heroin abuse spirals out of hand, addicts typically suffer a range of adverse consequences, from constipation and cold sweat to fevers and respiratory problems. Heroin addicts also face greater risks of coming into contact with incurable and lethal venereal diseases, including herpes and HIV.
Alarming Trends in Heroin Usage
In spite of the common knowledge regarding heroin addiction, figures compiled by SAMHSA have revealed some very disturbing findings on modern-day usage:
- Heroin usage saw a marked increase following the late 1980s, with the annual number of new initiates rising from 28,000 in 1988 to more than 100,000 in 2001.
- Between 1995 and 2002, lifetime heroin usage amongst the adult population rose from 0.8 to 1.6 percent.
- In 2002, 53 percent of past-year heroin users were classified as chemically addicted to the drug.
- 15.8 percent of students surveyed during 2002 found heroin to be one of the most readily available illicit drugs.
Not only are adults continually turning to heroin in exceedingly large numbers, but young people are also gaining easy access to the drug.
The Impact of Opioid Substitution Therapy
Medicines for treating chemical dependency have slowly gained ground in recent decades as an alternative to abstinence-based addiction therapy. Legally administered drugs like methadone and buprenorphine have helped addicts substitute the effects and ultimately overcome cravings for harmful drugs like heroin and morphine. As opiates themselves, methadone and buprenorphine allow users to experience some of the euphoric feelings associated with hard drugs in the opioid spectrum. What users ultimately avoid with these remedial opiates are the blunt and painful effects associated with comedowns and prolonged addictions.
*How Effective Has Suboxone Been on Opioid Addicts?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has sponsored studies on the effectiveness of buprenorphine and related drugs in the treatment of opioid addicts, and the results have been impressive:
- About 20.7 percent of addicts have totally quit opiates after undergoing buprenorphine treatment.
- A further 17.8 percent have tested opiate-free following buprenorphine/naloxone-based treatments.
- Since 2002, nearly 10,000 physicians have trained to prescribe Suboxone and Subutex tablets.
- In that same time span, approximately 7,000 providers have registered to provide the two medications.
As part of its effort to further the cause of buprenorphine-based remedial programs, NIDA has teamed with SAMHSA to produce training packets aimed at enlightening treatment providers to the many benefits of buprenorphine, Subutex and Suboxone.
Interactions Between Suboxone and Heroin
The purpose behind Suboxone usage is to eliminate hard opioid dependence, yet there are some users who view remedial drugs as further sources of recreation. When two opioids are mixed, however, their mutual depressive qualities can exacerbate one another, which can be fatal in users with respiratory problems. The key difference between Suboxone and other opioids is the added ingredient of naloxone, which reverses the actions of opioids. If Suboxone and heroin are taken orally in succession, the long-lasting effects of the former will counter the short-term rush of the latter and send the user into an immediate withdrawal. Such predicaments can be very dangerous, and they defeat the purpose of Suboxone as a remedial drug.
Mixing Suboxone and Cocaine
Users of cocaine are typically after a different kind of sensation than the calming euphoria offered by opioids, and thus the appeasing intents of Suboxone can backfire on a cocaine addict. While the effects of remedial opioids can feel appealing to a heroin or morphine addict, those same effects could resemble the withdrawal symptoms that cocaine users experience. Unlike methadone and pure buprenorphine, however, the naloxone in Suboxone works as a both an appeaser and counter to the effects of hard opioids. Unfortunately, these same qualities could agitate the impacts of cocaine to the point of quickened heartbeats and pulse rates.
Interactions Between Suboxone and Alcohol
Mixing drugs and alcohol is a general no-no, and the FDA has boldly warned against the combination of Suboxone and alcoholic beverages. Ethanol, the psychoactive drug in alcoholic beverages, can impact the mind and body in numerous ways after just one or two drinks. From a mental standpoint, alcohol clouds judgment and lowers inhibitions, which causes drunken people to engage in risky and sometimes death-defying behaviors. In the physical sense, the toxic compounds produced by alcohol can have profound effects on the central nervous system – a condition that gets aggravated when drugs are added to the equation. Alcohol should therefore never be consumed while Suboxone is active in the system.
*What Are the Controversies Surrounding Drugs Like Suboxone?
Despite the success of methadone maintenance programs and buprenorphine/naloxone prescription drugs, controversies still linger regarding the ethics behind opioid replacement. In an effort to further this discussion, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh recently summoned two of its local medical advisors, Dr. J. R. Robertson and Dr. A. M. Daniels, to respectively argue the pros and cons of opioid replacement.
Dr. Robertson argues that opioid replacement is essential for the following reasons:
- Medical professionals are obligated to treat patients with the most effective remedies currently available.
- Regardless of politics or personal biases, the primary business of doctors is to care for patients and manage the medical consequences.
- The failure of a doctor to maximize treatment is an act of negligence tantamount to criminal neglect.
Dr. Daniels counters that opioid replacement is dubious due to the following factors:
- Controlled trials provide insufficient evidence into the overall effectiveness of opioid replacement.
- Opioids are too dangerous to risk leaking into the general population via prescription users.
- Since 1996, Scotland’s heroin-addicted inmate population has grown in direct proportion to the number of methadone patients.
Conquering Opioid Addiction With Suboxone
Chemical dependencies are usually hard to overcome, because bodies can forget how to function in the absence of favored drugs. If you are thinking about taking Suboxone to conquer an opioid addiction, call us to learn more about the benefits and options available for recovering users in your community. If you already take Suboxone and find that you are mixing it with alcohol or other drugs, contact us today for help finding a program that can treat your abuse and addiction issues for good.