If you think of Suboxone as a detox aid, designed to lessen the discomforts associated with withdrawal from heroin and other opioid abuse, do not be embarrassed. This is a universal misinterpretation; one that many people share. Although Suboxone can be utilized for detox, that’s not it’s most effective objective. In fact, Suboxone is best used as a long-term therapy for opioid addiction treatment.
How Opioids Change Brain Chemistry
Heroin and other opioids create a physical dependency along with a psychological addiction, making them challenging to stop using. Drugs like heroin and prescription pain pills like Percocet attach onto our natural brain receptors, which are essential to physical functions such as pleasure and pain responses or sleep regulation. Normally, our brain produces natural opioids, but when we become addicted to outside opioids, our bodies stop producing them at the normal rate, leading to a multitude of issues that express themselves as acute withdrawal. Replacement therapies fix some of those changes, helping the brain re-calibrate after opioid dependence.
While Methadone might have been the gold standard for opioid replacement therapy for decades, Suboxone has gained recognition in today’s medication-assisted treatment world of addiction treatment. Because it is a partial-opioid agonist, rather than a full agonist like methadone, it is less likely to cause fatigue and will be easier to taper over time. Some addiction treatment centers taper patients from heroin or other short-acting opiates through reducing doses of Suboxone; which is why it is widely known as a detox medication.
Efficacy for Long-Term Suboxone Use
Patients who use Suboxone for six months or more have significantly better outcomes than patients who use it only as a detox aid. While recovery after detoxification is thought to have a relapse rate that can approach 90%, up to 70% of patients undergoing Suboxone maintenance for a year or longer will remain in treatment and, stay clean.
Many of the studies evaluating the efficacy of Suboxone for long term use mention a need for additional behavioral therapy. Addiction is believed to be a persistent, relapsing disease. Most researchers believe addiction has a genetic element, and it triggers alterations in the brain. However, environmental considerations also play a role. We also know that trauma and mental illness affect addiction substantially.
At the end of the day, more people are dying from overdose death than ever before. Each year overdose deaths continue to rise (except for 2018) which has resulted in lower life expectancy for Americans. In fact, overdoses during Covid-19 have cost 95,000 American souls, according to what is being reported by major news outlets. At the same time, The American Medical Association (AMA) advises the long-term use of Suboxone, in conjunction with behavioral addiction therapy. We also know the longer people stay in clinical treatment settings, the better their opportunity is for a positive outcome.
About the Author
Matthew Koenig is the principal of Last Call Marketing, which devotes their efforts to Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, Website Design and SEO, primarily in healthcare and tourism concerns. Mr. Koenig is based out of South Florida. His sober date is June 10, 2013.