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Opioid dependence – addiction to prescription painkillers or heroin – is a serious medical condition. Because of the ways opioids change the chemistry of the brain, withdrawal symptoms and the accompanying intense cravings can be intense and difficult to manage on your own.

When someone develops a dependence on a substance, the person’s ability to exert self-control can become seriously compromised. Imaging studies from drug-dependent individuals show actual neurological changes in many cognitive and emotion-processing regions of the brain. Scientists believe that these changes alter the way the brain works, and may help explain the compulsive and destructive behaviors of drug dependence.

For years, methadone was the drug of choice to treat opiate withdrawals. Two of the biggest problems with receiving methadone treatment are the inconvenience, and the risk of potential overdose. Methadone is only available at a licensed methadone clinic, which require daily attendance for administration. Also, if a patient receiving methadone happens to relapse back into using a street drug while on methadone, they are at an increased chance of experiencing an overdose.

Suboxone is an opiate drug that is frequently used to help addicts detox from opiates such as heroin or prescription painkillers. Suboxone is similar to other opiates, but is not seen as having abuse potential due to the fact that it lacks the euphoric properties of those drugs. Suboxone helps with withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, cramps, insomnia, nausea, and nightmares. Suboxone is a combination of two separate drugs, buprenorphine to treat pain symptoms, and naloxone to deter potential abuse. Suboxone differs from previous treatments, such as methadone, in that it is one of the first drugs approved by the FDA for home –use.

Suboxone is designed to be taken sublingually (under the tongue), and is available in 2mg, 4mg, 8mg, and 12mg doses. The most common reported side effects of Suboxone include: cold or flu-like symptoms, headaches, sweating, trouble sleeping, nausea, mood swings, and difficulty breathing. Suboxone may interact with other drugs, and administration should only be given under the guidance of a medical professional. This drug can increase the effects of other medications that can cause drowsiness. Women who take suboxone should not get pregnant while on it, as their infant may show withdrawal symptoms; additionally, buprenorphine has been shown to pass into breast milk, making breastfeeding highly risky.

Given that drug history, body weight, other medical issues, and a range of other factors can influence suboxone effects, administration and prescribing should only come from a medical professional who has conducted a thorough patient evaluation.