Does Misuse = Abuse?
If you are taking Suboxone:
- For entertainment or pleasure
- In ways other than intended
…such use of any controlled substance is considered to be drug abuse. So, if you are thinking, “Taking Suboxone to relax is not really drug abuse,” or, “I will only use Suboxone occasionally to get high,”…it can only be a matter of time before you ‘harmless’ abuse may turn into a more serious problem.
We review Suboxone abuse risks here, as well as ways you can address a drug problem. Then, we invite you for a discussion in the comments section at the end.
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Medical Use vs. Suboxone Abuse
Suboxone – buprenorphine and naloxone – is used to treat addiction. It affects the central nervous system (CNS) and blocks feelings of sedation. When used as prescribed, it is a very effective and safe medication that has helped many suffering from substance use disorder to regain control over their lives.
However, Suboxone is classified as a Schedule III drug for a reason; Suboxone is a potent synthetic opioid. Abusing it in any way can cause physical as well as psychological dependence, and a whole array of unwanted side effects. So, despite its usefulness in the treatment of opioid addiction as part of drug replacement therapy, Suboxone is a habit-forming medication that can lead you to physical dependence, or even addiction when abused.
Q: Can someone with a prescription abuse Suboxone?
Suboxone can be abused by people who do have a doctor’s prescription. Sometimes, this abuse is unintentional, as our bodies tend to develop tolerance to the medication, in which case it’s effectiveness diminishes…so they take more to get the desired effects.
But, other times patients may engage in serious illegal activities, such as:
- Buying the drug through online pharmacies or off of dealers.
- Forging prescriptions.
- Obtaining multiple Suboxone prescriptions from different doctors (a.k.a. doctor shopping).
- Obtaining Suboxone through someone else who’s prescribed (drug diversion).
- Pretending to have lost their medication just to obtain more Suboxone.
How is Suboxone Abused?
Even though doctors claim that Suboxone technically cannot get you “high”, some substance abusers have found a way to get high on Suboxone. Common ways that people abuse the drug include:
- Chewing Suboxone.
- Crushing Suboxone into powder for snorting.
- Dissolving Suboxone pills for injecting.
- Using Suboxone in larger doses than prescribed.
- Using Suboxone more often than prescribed.
- Mixing Suboxone with other substances (alcohol, prescription medications, and illicit drugs).
Continued Suboxone use though alternative routes of administrations such as chewing pills, snorting, or injecting the drug, as well as taking larger, more frequent doses often results in serious withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit use. In fact, the withdrawal effects are one of the main reasons why people continue abusing Suboxone – the harsh symptoms diminish as you take the drug again and again.
Common Signs of Suboxone Abuse
If you are concerned that someone close to you has a problem with Suboxone abuse, here are some signs of abuse that you can look for.
- Abdominal pain
- High blood pressure
- Increased sweating
- Muscle pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Apathetic mood
- Poor memory
- Slurred speech
Abusing Suboxone may lead to a number of health risks, which may pose a treat to your life. Some of the serious side effects associated with Suboxone abuse may include:
- Extreme tiredness
- Irregular breathing
- Lack of energy
- Loss of appetite
- Lowered immune function
NOTE HERE: If you ever experience any of these symptoms while on a medical dose of Suboxone, you should call your doctor and report what you are feeling ASAP. If you are abusing the medication without a doctor’s knowledge, you should seek medical help nonetheless.
Treating Suboxone Abuse Withdrawal
Suboxone abuse is best treated in controlled medical settings due to the onset of withdrawal symptoms that occur when you lower the usual dosage or try to quit suddenly and abruptly. This is why during the first stage of Suboxone abuse treatment, doctors and nurses will work to address your body’s chemical dependence. Suboxone withdrawal symptoms will set in as traces of the drug start to leave the system. Symptoms may include:
- Goose bumps
- Mild fever
- Muscle aches
- Nausea and vomiting
Going though withdrawal alone is very likely to result in a relapse, which is why medical monitoring is crucial. Medical detox clinics can provide adequate medications to manage and treat withdrawal symptoms as they occur. Detox staff offer a safe and supportive environment in which you can recover from Suboxone abuse. They may prescribe Clonidine, or suggest over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, Tylenol, Imodium, and Benadryl that treat flu like symptoms, cramps, and insomnia.
Treating a Suboxone Abuse Problem
Effective treatment programs don’t end their work when the drug is safely removed from your body. Instead, they will work to identify what’s your current situation, address the deeper reasons behind your Suboxone abuse, and help you develop strategies to become and remain drug-free. A good treatment program will work to resolve your physical dependence to Suboxone as well as any underlying psychological problems.
Psychotherapy and behavioral therapies are a big part of Suboxone abuse treatment. During therapy, you will undergo individual, group, and/or family counseling. Commonly used therapies in the treatment of Suboxone abuse include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Dual Diagnosis Treatment
- Educational Sessions
- Family and/or Couples Therapy
- Medication Maintenance Therapy
- Motivational Interviewing
All these interventions aim to help you safely remove Suboxone from your system, uncover and address the reasons why you started to abuse Suboxone in the first place, and help you become better equipped to abstain from using drugs in the future.
Who Can Help Me With Suboxone Abuse?
Are you wondering, “What types of professionals can help me with my Suboxone abuse problem?” Take hope! There are plenty of professionals and resources that aim to help any person facing a drug abuse problem. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Suboxone Abuse Helpline – A hotline is a good place to start looking for information while remaining anonymous. When you CALL 1-877-364-7072, you will talk with a caring and non-judgmental professional who listens and can relate to your struggles. You will only need to reveal the basic minimum that hotline staffers need in order to get a better picture of your problem and offer strategies and information about Suboxone abuse treatment services that can best help you.
2. Drug Treatment Centers – These health facilities readily accept patients who are suffering from Suboxone abuse. They offer detox services, inpatient and outpatient programs and a number of related services.
3. Pharmacists – When detoxing, pharmacists can suggest over-the-counter medications and herbal remedies to help alleviate some of the minor withdrawal symptoms as they occur.
4. Prescribing Physicians – Your prescribing doctor can be the first point of contact in case of a Suboxone abuse problem. They can assess the severity of your problem and recommend adequate treatment.
5. Psychiatrists – These mental health doctors are familiar with prescribing Suboxone for the treatment of opiate addiction. They can also prescribe medications to help with co-occuring mental health issues in the case of dual diagnosis.
6. Licensed Clinical Psychologist – Psychologists are crucial in helping people who misuse Suboxone to solve their existing psychological, emotional, and spiritual problems that compel them to abuse drugs in the first place.
7. Addiction Specialists – Doctors who are Certified Addiction Specialists (CAS) are experts in the treatment of Suboxone addiction and of other serious and recurrent addictions to other substances including alcohol and prescription/illicit drugs.
Got Any Questions?
As an addictive medication, Suboxone may easily become a drug of abuse. We hope to answer your main questions on abuse of Suboxone. If not, do not hesitate to share all your concerns in the comments section at the end of the page. We will do our best to respond to all legitimate queries as soon as possible.