What is Suboxone?
Suboxone, also known as buprenorphine, is used for the treatment of opioid addiction. Not only does it reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings, it also prevents the patient from feeling the effects of opioids if he or she were to introduce them into their body. It does not produce a high or feeling of euphoria in patients with opioid addiction.
How Does Suboxone Work?
Suboxone uses two medications: buprenorphine, and naloxone.
Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. Full opioid agonists include drugs such as heroin, morphine, and oxycodone. When a partial opioid agonist attaches to opioid receptors in the brain, it does not produce the same euphoric effect as a full opioid agonist would in an opioid addict. The brain, however, perceives it as a full opioid agonist, which in turn reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Buprenorphine remains in the brain’s opioid receptors for 24-hours. It reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings during this time, and also prevents full opioid agonists from occupying the receptors. This means that if a patient were to use a drug such as oxycodone or heroin within 24 hours after having taken Suboxone, he or she would not feel its effects. Patients cannot achieve a euphoric effect with Suboxone by taking more than the prescribed dose.
Naloxone is an opioid agonist which is not absorbed by the bloodstream in any meaningful quantity when taken as directed. However, if Suboxone is taken incorrectly, for example by injection or snorting, the naloxone travels to opioid receptors and removes the opioids that are there, causing a sudden and severe withdrawal. Because of this property, Naloxone is included in Suboxone to encourage its proper administration.