There has been an increase in prescription of opioid painkillers in the US, this phenomenon got me worried and backed up by a recent study that verified that the use of safer alternatives to pain management has been on the decline.
In recent years there has been a growing awareness in the medical community about the pervasiveness of pain. This awareness has corresponded to a sharp increase in the use of opioids and abuse with so many people involved in the use opioids for non-medical purposes.
One of the biggest disasters associated with this tremendous use of opioid painkillers is their potential to cause addiction.
Addiction to any drug substance be it medicinal or not is a very serious issue with extremely adverse socio-economic impacts in human populations all over the world. The move to try and help addicts recover from this societal demon is thus a noble one. Many addiction treatment centers have been set up in line with this move. Different medications are today in use in the world over and research is still ongoing with the aim of developing the most effective medication for addiction treatment. One such drug being used today in addiction treatment is suboxone.
Suboxone is a brand name for a prescription medication that is a combination of two drugs; buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine belongs to a class of drugs called opioid partial agonists which help relieve symptoms of opiate withdrawal. Naloxone on the other hand is belongs to a class of drugs called opioid antagonists which reverse the effects of narcotics. one of the most powerful narcotics isbuprenorphine is a narcotic, it is so powerful yet it has a potential o be addictive. it was approved for treatment of opioid addiction in 2002 in the United States.
This drug can be combined with naloxone to make Suboxone and be used to help addicts to fight opioids like vicodin, heroin, OxyContin, and hydrocodone. Naloxone has ability to block opioid receptors in the brain and trigger sudden withdrawal symptoms when injected. For treatment, Naloxone is added as deterrent to prevent addicts from injecting Suboxone. When taken as a pill, naloxone is not absorbed into the body.
When it was first released in 2002, suboxone was hailed as a major advance over methadone. But millions of but later there were millions of literature critiquing the use of this drug as it has faults as were thought earlier.
One of the biggest challenges associated with suboxone treatment is its being overprescribed and misused.
Over three million Americans with opioid dependence have been treated with Suboxone. This drug has been successfully used to help addicts but it has high potential of being abused.
A report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found a ten-fold increase in the number of emergency room visits involving buprenorphine. Slightly over half of the 30,000 hospitalizations in 2010 were for misuse and abuse of buprenorphine.
How many died from buprenorphine overdoses is unknown, because medical examiners and coroners do not routinely test for the drug.
For a drug addict, the most uncomfortable, painful problem of their addiction is withdrawal. If they can somehow control their urge to delve back into the drug and endure the side effects of withdrawal, then they can successfully complete their addiction recovery and gain their freedom from use of drugs.
Suboxone is so popular with addicts that it has turned into a street drug – to be bartered or exchanged for money, heroin or other illegal drugs. According to one estimate, about half of the buprenorphine obtained through legitimate prescriptions is either being diverted or used illicitly.
Drug makers are well aware of the potential for misuse and abuse. Orexo, the maker of menthol flavored Zubsolv, is selling the tablets in single dose “blister” packaging designed to reduce accidental use by kids. Another maker, Reckitt-Benckiser took its Suboxone tablets off the U.S. market and currently sells Suboxone in individually wrapped film strips. However experts have it that no amount of preparation and packaging can outsmart a determined drug abuser.
The potential for abuse and diversion is however not reason enough to call for a stop in treating addicts with buprenorphine, according to a commentary published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine that calls for a “balanced approach” to the drug.
The other major challenge associated with suboxone treatment is that it is causing its own epidemic of addiction. Patients undergoing suboxone treatment could overtime get addicted to the drug and show withdrawal symptoms when they try to get off its use.
One of the primary advantages of suboxone for addiction treatment is the fact that buprenorphine’s partial agonist quality prevents it from triggering respiratory depression -and thus overdoses.
Its other advantages include:
Though suboxone is considered an advance in addiction treatment over methadone, it has its disadvantages. Some of these disadvantages include:
Addiction is a societal menace for which support is required in fighting. That’s why we at AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center are committed to availing help to addicts and offering them a place to call home. It matters not what kind of addiction you are wrestling with, just call on Dr. Dalal Akoury (MD) today and begin your journey to victory against addiction.