The buprenorphine (Suboxone) was approved in 2002 for the treatment of opioid addiction in the U.S. This medicine has numerous advantages over methadone and naltrexone; it suppresses withdrawal symptoms and cravings for opioids, does not cause euphoria in the opioid-dependent patient and it blocks the effects of the other (problem) opioids for at least 24 hours.
There are two medications combined in each dose of Suboxone. The most important ingredient is buprenorphine, which is classified as a ‘partial opioid agonist,’ and the second is naloxone which is an ‘opioid antagonist’ or an opioid blocker.
As an opioid partial agonist, buprenorphine can produce typical opioid agonist effects such as euphoria and respiratory depression. However, its effects are less than those of full agonists like Oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, heroin and methadone, which are examples of ‘full opioid agonists.’ When taken at low doses, a ‘partial opioid’ produces sufficient agonist effect that allows opioid-addicted individuals to discontinue the use of other opioids without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Suboxone, when taken properly, may help a patient feel a very slight pleasurable sensation, but most patients report that they feel “normal” or “more energized” during medication-assisted treatment. This includes much needed relief from various withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
The agonist effects of Suboxone increase with increasing doses. It is metabolized by the liver and has a half-life of 24–60 hours.
People who are already opioid dependent do not get a euphoric effect or “high” when they take Suboxone properly. Suboxone tricks the brain into thinking that a full opioid like oxycodone or heroin is present. This suppresses the withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Fritz Clinic offers medication-assisted treatment using Suboxone. This protocol involves three phases: induction, stabilization, and maintenance.
The induction phase is the medically monitored start-up of addiction therapy. First, Suboxone is administered when an opioid-addicted individual has abstained from using opioids for 12–24 hours and is in the early stages of opioid withdrawal. This ensures the patient does not enter early acute withdrawal. The treatment continues as part of our addiction recovery process, with managed treatment, counseling, and personalized care in the stabilization and maintenance phases.