Suboxone Addiction Signs and Symptoms
It’s often said that people who have dealt with addictions in the past remain at risk for addictions in the future. It’s as though your system becomes so sensitive to feelings of pleasure, and so unaccustomed to controlling your behavior, that it’s all too easy for you to move from using something to abusing something. It might happen so slowly that you don’t even notice.
Sometimes, your new addictions are somewhat benign. You might find you’re bereft without a stick of gum in your mouth or a cup of tea in your hands. You might become obsessed with actions such as jogging or shopping. You might become a compulsive user of the Internet. While these actions might be somewhat expected, and counseling might help you to overcome them, you might also develop addictions to the addiction treatments your doctor has provided. For example, some people in recovery from addictions to opiates like heroin or opioids like Vicodin are prescribed the medication Suboxone. This medication is meant to quell cravings and help people adjust to living without drugs. Unfortunately, some people can, and do, develop addictions to Suboxone. Read on to see if you might be someone who is dealing with this addiction.
How the Drug Works
Suboxone contains two medications: buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a synthetic opiate that works in much the same way that heroin works. It attaches to the same receptors, soothing cravings for drugs and causing you to feel less anxious and upset. When taken properly, buprenorphine doesn’t cause euphoria or sedation. Instead, most users feel simply calm and relaxed. They’re able to go to work, attend therapy sessions and have active social lives. Buprenorphine can, however, be abused. If it’s taken in high doses, the drug can cause euphoria. When the drug manufacturers understood this fact, they added naloxone to the mix.
Naloxone is an agonist. The drug searches for opiate and opioid receptors and when they are found, the drug sweeps away any drug molecules that are attached to those receptors. It’s provided in very low doses in Suboxone tablets, so typically, the buprenorphine can attach with only a few molecules knocked away by the naloxone. But, when the drug is crushed and taken in high doses, the naloxone is designed to move to the forefront and set right to work, knocking away all buprenorphine molecules and causing immediate withdrawal.
Originally, experts believed that Suboxone would never be abused. People who crushed the tablets, they thought, would immediately feel such discomfort that they’d simply never abuse the medication again. Just one attempt would provide a serious deterrent to abuse, they thought. In addition, buprenorphine has a ceiling of effect, meaning that it can only provide a specific amount of action. Taking higher doses won’t cause an increase in symptoms. Since addicts often need bigger and bigger doses to feel the same effect, they might not even enjoy buprenorphine, as it can’t be used this way. Put these two components together, and it’s easy to see why experts believed the drug might never be abused. The drug simply isn’t very powerful, and it has a built-in mechanism to prevent abuse.
*How Suboxone Should Be Used
According to an article published by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, Suboxone should only be provided as part of a comprehensive treatment program for addiction that includes both counseling and monitoring for drug abuse. If you’re using Suboxone without a prescription, or you’re using the drug without attending any counseling sessions, your use is considered abusive. While you might not be addicted to the drug now, an addiction can quickly follow when you use the drug in such a reckless way.
How Addiction Develops
Some people who abuse Suboxone claim that they were never told that the drug could be addictive. You might have been told that the drug could help you with your addiction, but you weren’t told exactly how the drug worked. If you fall into this camp, you might have found that you were slowly drawn to taking larger and larger doses of Suboxone. The compulsion might have developed slowly, at a chemical level, and you might not have been aware of that process. In other words, the drug might have operated on your opiate and opioid receptors, triggering compulsive use you weren’t quite aware of or in control of.
Other people are quite cognizant of what the drug can and will do, and they purposefully abuse the drug in order to get high or to relax. Consider the case of a teen mother who told ABC News, “I took 30 Suboxone within three days… The depression took over. I’d just take four to five at a time underneath my tongue, and nod out.” It’s likely this person knew exactly what the drug was designed to do, and this person took the drug in order to bring that effect about. This is another quick path to addiction.
*Addiction’s Genetic Bias
If you’re in recovery from addiction, you should know that your addiction susceptibility might lie deep within your genes, beyond your control. According to an article in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, people with specific genetic mutations can quickly transition from substance use to substance dependence and then abuse. That’s why it’s so important for you to stay in touch with your therapist and be honest about your feelings and your behaviors. Your therapist can help you to identify troubling behaviors before they spiral out of control into new addictions.
Suboxone-Specific Addiction Symptoms
There are some addiction symptoms that are specific to Suboxone. For example, the drug is meant only to control your symptoms of addiction and to help you feel calm enough to participate in therapy. If you’re using the drug in order to relax, sleep, have fun or get high, it’s likely that you’re on the path back to an addiction.
In addition, if you find that you must manipulate your Suboxone by following these steps, you might also be addicted:
- Crushing your pills and snorting them
- Mixing crushed pills with water to inject them
- Taking multiple doses at the same time
- Chewing your pills and swallowing them
If you’ve been provided with Suboxone as part of your addiction recovery program and you find that you’re running out of doses long before you should, you might be forced to buy the drug on the street from dealers. According to an article produced by the National Drug Intelligence Center, Suboxone tablets can be sold on the street for $25 or more. This can quickly add up to a significant expense. If you find that you’re using rent money, grocery money or your savings account to pay for the use of the drug, you likely have an addiction issue.
*The Role of Environment
In an interesting study published in the Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, researchers found that rats who were addicted to a substance and then given 30 days of withdrawal were quicker to return to addiction when they were reintroduced to the environments in which they were living when the addiction first took hold. If you find that you’re taking Suboxone in the same spots in which you took your original drug of abuse, you might be exposing yourself to environmental cues that could lead to a new addiction. To shake things up, try taking Suboxone in a new part of the house. If you commonly took your drugs with your right hand, try taking Suboxone with your left. By exposing your brain to a new environment, you might break up those environmental cues.
Changes Associated With All Addictions
While Suboxone addiction might be associated with signs that are specific to that particular drug, there are some signs of addiction that are recognizable no matter what it is you’re addicted to. Many of these signs have to do with preoccupation. People who are addicted often use statements such as:
- “I couldn’t stop thinking about drugs.”
- “Everything I saw reminded me of drugs.”
- “I dreamed about drugs.”
- “Just seeing people I talked to while I was high made me want to get high again.”
- “I hate drugs but I can’t think about anything else.”
Other symptoms cluster around control and priorities. You might find that you can’t get a handle on how much Suboxone you take. You might tell yourself you’ll only use one dose today, and no more. Yet, when the day is over, you’ve taken six or eight doses. It’s just not a behavior you have conscious control over. You might also find that most of the decisions you make revolve around getting access to the drug. You’ll only go to therapy if it means you can get more Suboxone. You’ll only go to work in order to earn money to buy Suboxone. The drug really seems to compel you.
The last set of symptoms has to do with consequences. If you have experienced negative consequences due to your Suboxone use and abuse, addiction is likely a problem for you. These consequences include:
- Losing your job
- Losing your marriage or a relationship
- Getting arrested
- Losing your home
- Driving while intoxicated
You Can Recover
In order to overcome a Suboxone addiction, you need to open up to your addiction counselor about your use and abuse of the drug. You might need more therapy sessions in order to control your impulses, or you might benefit from switching to a different medication to control your cravings and your primary addiction. Your therapist is prepared to help you, but you’ll need to take the first step and admit that the abuse is occurring.
If you don’t have a counselor, it’s time to get one. Suboxone addictions can be treated with therapy and you can get help to taper away from the drug until you’re not using any substances at all. This is the best way to heal, but you’ll need a therapist’s help to do that. Call us today and we can provide you with a list of therapists and top luxury inpatient addiction treatment programs that are qualified to provide you with the help you’ll need.