The fight against opioid addiction is an ongoing, uphill battle in America and other countries, but there are equally strong drugs designed to ease people’s dependence without leading to death-dealing withdrawal symptoms.
Suboxone is a prescription medication that is one of the leading brand names for treating opioid addiction, which works by helping patients manage their cravings in conjunction with therapy and rehab.
How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Your System?
Suboxone’s effects can last for 24 hours, though the two drugs it contains will impact the length it stays in your system. For instance, buprenorphine’s half-life elimination ranges between 24 to 42 hours, while naloxone’s half-life elimination is between 2 to 12 hours.
With that in mind, Suboxone can generally stay in the patient’s body for five to eight days before it can completely get flushed from one’s system. Of course, it’s only a ballpark number, and other factors can influence the length it takes to clear out. Here are examples of what causes the difference in the duration of Suboxone:
- Liver Function
- Frequency of Use
- Co-Ingestion of Other Drugs
As for the drug test, using blood for examinations have the shortest window of opportunity to detect Suboxone since it can only identify its presence two hours after the last dose. On the other hand, saliva tests work better and can find traces of the medication a few days to more than a week since the last intake of Suboxone.
Finally, urine tests are the most common form of drug test used by employers, plus it’s the most cost-effective choice since it can detect Suboxone abuse between 40 minutes to 2 weeks later. Testers can also build up in hair follicles and stay there for one to three months, but it’s the least viable option.
What is Suboxone and What Does it Treat?
Suboxone is a prescription medication classified as a Schedule III controlled substance, which means it has a significant medical value across the healthcare industry. While Suboxone can effectively help patients taper off their opioid addiction, consuming the drug also comes with risks of growing dependent over time.
That’s why doctors with certification and special training from the Department of Health and Human Services are the only medical providers who can legally prescribe suboxone. But before we get to the risks, let’s break down the chemical components of Suboxone. Generally, you’ll find Suboxone divided into four different strengths depending on the patient’s tolerance and needs:
- 2 mg buprenorphine / 0.5 mg naloxone
- 4 mg buprenorphine / 1 mg naloxone
- 8 mg buprenorphine / 2 mg naloxone
- 12 mg buprenorphine / 3 mg naloxone
What is the Chemical Make-Up of Suboxone?
It contains two primary ingredients: the medication naloxone, which is another medication used for reversing the damaging effects of opioid overdose. To add, Suboxone is also made up of opioid buprenorphine, a form of opioid that has a higher potency level than popular painkillers like morphine.
Having opioid content in your medication seems alarming, but keep in mind that buprenorphine is a partial opioid antagonist. This means it won’t allow other opioids to interact with your nervous system’s opioid receptors. Altogether, it creates a potent medication that can effectively lower a patient’s unhealthy longing for addictive opioids and other similar drugs like heroin, codeine, fentanyl, or oxycodone.
What are the Common Side Effects of Suboxone?
Like many other prescription medications, taking Suboxone precisely as your doctor instructs can still pave the way for minor side effects. Some of the common side effects include the following, which should fade within a few days of taking the drug:
- Headache, nausea, and vomiting
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Muscle aches and cramps
- Sleep issues
- Blurred vision
- Heart palpitations
- Difficulty concentrating
Keep in mind that some patients may have allergic reactions to Suboxone, which can trigger respiratory issues and throat swelling. That’s why it’s always important to let doctors know whether you have any existing allergies with medications, though if this is a newly discovered condition, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention immediately to discontinue your use.
If the side effects mentioned above persist, it’s best to talk to your doctor, too, so they can either adjust the dosage or switch you to a more appropriate medication for your condition.
What are the Tell-Tale Signs of Suboxone Abuse?
Since Suboxone is also a form of opiate, it also can become addictive over time. With that in mind, you can immediately tell if someone you know is abusing the drug by noticing the following physical symptoms addiction:
- Poor coordination, limpness, or weakness
- Slurred speech
- Problems with thinking
- Blurred vision
- Shallow breathing
- Extreme drowsiness
- Pain in the upper stomach
- A pounding heartbeat
- Loss of appetite
When you identify the symptoms mentioned above, it’s important to seek medical assistance when helping your loved one taper off their addiction since making them quit cold turkey can trigger withdrawal effects.
After all, suboxone is a highly dependent drug that can easily hook users, so forcing them to stop suboxone without any therapy or professional aid runs the risk of facilitating the following withdrawal symptoms:
- Shaking or shivering
- Muscle pain
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Feeling cold or very hot
- Cravings for the drug
Beyond causing physically detrimental effects that, suboxone abuse and its associated withdrawal symptoms can also have negative repercussions on the user’s mental health in the following ways:
- Poor memory
- Erratic behavior
- Shifts in mood
Just like many hard medications, it’s important to take it as intended under the strict supervision of a licensed doctor. Going off track puts you in dangerous territory, even if you or someone you know who abuses the prescription drug doesn’t have any intentions of abusing it.
Missing a dosage and making up for it by adjusting the doctor’s instructions, for example, can be the catalyst that paves the way for a fatal suboxone overdose. If you notice the symptoms mentioned above, time is of the essence, so don’t hesitate to call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room!
The Bottom Line: The Importance of Seeking the Right Medical Aid When Taking Suboxone
Suboxone is a prescription medication intended to treat opioid addiction, making it play a key role in the medical industry. However, it requires the constant monitor and guidance of an accredited doctor since Suboxone abuse can be just as deadly as the addictive condition it’s designed to treat.