Suboxone Treatment for Opioid Dependence

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Suboxone Treatment for Opioid Dependence

Opioid dependence in the United States is increasing in numbers with those addicted to heroin and prescription opioid analgesics. Opioid use includes morphine, codine, oxycodine, the painkillers oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and heroin. Several different treatment options are available for opioid dependence. Behavioral therapy includes counseling, cognitive therapy, phychotherapy, and the twelve step recovery program developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. Prescriptions can also be used for the treatment of opioid dependence. For example, methodone is used to help treat heroin abusers, and buprenorphine is used to treat opioid dependence, more specifically, Suboxone. What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is manufactured by Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare and is distributed by Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals Inc. Suboxone is used to treat opioid dependence. According to the FDA, Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone in a single tablet. Buprenorphine is an opioid medication that produces less euphoric effects and because of this may be easier to stop taking. Naloxone works by blocking the effects of opioids and should be administered under the tongue as directed so it will not affect the actions of buprenorphine. Suboxone is in the FDA pregnancy category C which means that it is not know if it will be harmful to an unborn baby. In October 2002, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Suboxone for the treatment of opioid dependence. Suboxone is listed as a Schedule III controlled drug with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Physicians may prescribe a month supply and five one-month renewals without any additional face-to-face visits, urine tests or other screenings (Reckitt Benckiser, 2007). Suboxone can cause drug dependence so if the client stops using the medication too quickly it can cause withdrawal symptoms. It is possible that withdrawal symptoms may also occur when starting the medication due to the dependence on another drug. When stopping the use of Suboxone the doctor may gradually reduce the dose to avoid or to minimize the withdrawal symptoms (Reckitt Benckiser, 2007). Suboxone is available in 2mg/0.5mg (buprenorphine/naloxone) and 8mg/2mg tablets that are an orange hexagonal shape. The daily targeted dose is twelve to sixteen milligrams and cost approximately nine dollars for sixteen milligrams (Reckitt Benckiser, 2007). The Suboxone tablet should be placed under the tongue and allowed to dissolve completely which will take five to ten minutes. Suboxone should not be chewed or swallowed as the tablets may cause withdrawal symptoms. If taking the Suboxone sublingual film, it should be placed under the tongue and allowed to dissolve completely. If an additional film is prescribed per dose, the film should be place under the tongue on the opposite side from the first film. One placed under the tongue it should not be moved (Reckitt Benckiser, 2007). While taking Suboxone it can cause constipation so it is important to drink plenty of water. When treatment is completed, it is recommended that any unused tablets or film be flushed down the toilet. This helps to prevent the abuse of Suboxone by opioid dependents as well as theft of the products to be sold on the streets.

Side Effects and Overdose
Serious side effects or overdose require medical attention. These include difficulty or slowed breathing, closing of the throat, swelling of the lips, tongue, or face, hive, yellowing of the eyes or skin, dark colored urine, light colored stools, decreased appetite for several days or longer, nausea, or lower stomach pain. Symptoms of overdose may include seizures, dizziness, weakness, loss of consciousness, coma, confusion, tiredness, cold and clammy skin, and small pupils (Meir and Patkar, 2007). Less serious side effects of taking Suboxone are more likely to occur. If this occurs, continue to take the medication and contact...
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