Opiate addiction is a major problem in the United States. 115 people die every day from overdosing on opiates in the United States alone.
Opiates are highly addictive, causing changes in the chemical balance in the body. This makes it extremely difficult to stop taking the drug even if motivations to do so are high.
Options like Suboxone and methadone were invented to treat opiate addiction.
The older drug, methadone, helps users curb their addiction through its long duration of effects. This meant that users only needed one or two doses per day of the drug, helping to eliminate the habits involved with smoking, or injecting their medications.
Over time the medication can be reduced until no opiates are needed to stop addicts from feeling withdrawal sick.
The problem is that methadone is also addictive and easily abused on its own.
In an attempt to create a new drug to treat opiate addiction, researchers created Suboxone — which is a combination of the opiate medications buprenorphine, and naloxone.
Suboxone is significantly harder to abuse, and therefore more likely to be an effective treatment.
Buprenorphine is an opiate medication that provides the hit of opiate the user needs to lower symptoms of withdrawal.
The naloxone prevents people from abusing the drug. It’s used as an emergency treatment for opiate overdose because it removes opiate drugs from the opiate receptors in the body.
Drug users can take the Suboxone by eating it or placing it under the tongue. The buprenorphine is absorbed to satisfy cravings and reduce withdrawal sickness.
The naloxone, on the other hand, is not absorbed unless the user attempts to abuse the medication by injecting it. If injected, naloxone completely eliminates the effects of the opioids, forcing the user into a state of withdrawal almost immediately.
Over time, doctors reduce the dose of Suboxone to wean people off of opiate addiction.