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Effects of Long-Term Suboxone Use

Suboxone is used to help people in the initial stages of treatment for opioid addiction. This medication can help make it easier to stop taking heroin because it helps quell some of the withdrawal symptoms. However, there are some questions about the long-term effects of Suboxone. How long is too long to take it and what are the risks? Buckhead Behavioral Health explores this subject to find out the best practices for using this medication.

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is the brand name of an FDA-approved medication available by prescription. It is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone and is often used to help treat people who have entered recovery for an addiction to opioids. This medication acts as an opioid agonist and comes in a pill form or a dissolvable film. When someone stops abusing heroin, Suboxone can help minimize withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings to use the drug. 

When someone goes to rehab for opioids, they may be given Suboxone as part of medication-assisted treatment (MAT). MAT uses both traditional talk therapy and the use of medications to help a person overcome their substance use disorder. Taking Suboxone will not create a sensation of feeling high, like using heroin does. Instead, consuming it tricks the brain into thinking it has taken heroin, thus reducing the urge to use that drug.

What are the Long-Term Effects of Suboxone?

There are definitely some possible long-term effects of Suboxone, and the risk of this should be discussed with the prescribing physician. One risk is that Suboxone is a partial opioid agonist, which means it is part of a drug class that can result in someone experiencing a dependence on it. This shows up in the form of feeling withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug. 

Even using the drug as directed long-term, which is commonly defined as six months or more, can cause symptoms to occur. These include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Digestive distress such as diarrhea or constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Sweating
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Higher sensitivity to pain
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Long-term effects can also include swelling of the arms and legs. In addition, Suboxone is processed by a person’s liver. Like many medications used for an extended period of time, this can cause damage to the liver. This result is more common in someone who already has a pre-existing liver condition, but monitoring of the liver should be done if the medication is used for a long period of time. 

Is Suboxone Addictive?

Another concern about the long-term effects of Suboxone relates to whether or not it can become addictive. Opioids are much more addictive than a medication like Suboxone, but there is still a risk of developing an addiction to it. The risk of developing an addiction comes from two likely sources. The first is when a person uses Suboxone to ease withdrawal symptoms when they do not have access to heroin or other opioids. If they cannot find an opioid to consume, they may become reliant on Suboxone to the point of addiction. 

The other risk is if a person begins to rely on the feeling they get from using the drug and begin to doctor shop. This is the act of visiting multiple doctors to get several prescriptions for the same drug. The individual then uses more than the recommended amount and can go on to become addicted. 

Can You Overdose on Suboxone?

Someone wondering about the long-term effects of Suboxone may feel concerned that they might overdose on it. It is possible for a person to consume an excessive amount of the drug in an attempt to replicate the feeling of being high that opioids used to provide them. An overdose of Suboxone can also occur if someone takes it along with other substances, such as alcohol, antidepressants, or benzodiazepines. 

Treatment for The Long-Term Effects of Suboxone Use

When someone develops an addiction to Suboxone, they need to attend rehab in order to receive the intensive help they need to overcome it. Many outpatient programs offer focused treatment designed to help people remove the need to use Suboxone. The levels of outpatient care include regular outpatient programs (OP), intensive outpatient programs (IOP), and partial hospitalization programs (PHP). An admissions staff member at the facility can provide an assessment to determine which level of care will meet the person’s needs.

Suboxone Addiction Treatment in Atlanta, GA

When someone develops an addiction to a drug like heroin or other opioids, it becomes challenging to find the right program to help them become sober. Suboxone can be a real game-changer for helping someone experience relief from some of the withdrawal symptoms that happen. Unfortunately, the long-term effects of Suboxone can cause their own difficulties and challenges. When this happens, it’s imperative that the person finds the right treatment like the kind provided by Buckhead Behavioral Health. Our outpatient programs and experienced addiction experts help people remove all forms of substance abuse from their lives.

If you would like help to overcome your addiction to Suboxone, visit our admissions page now. Our friendly staff can answer any questions you have about how our program works to help you regain your health.

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