As stated by the FDA, “Suboxone is a prescription medicine used to treat adults who are addicted to (dependent on) opioid drugs… as part of a complete treatment program that also includes counseling and behavioral therapy.” Suboxone can be used to treat addiction to illicit opioids like heroin and also to treat prescription opioid addiction. There are many benefits to using Suboxone as a codeine addiction treatment.
Minimizing Withdrawal, Cravings
Suboxone works in much the same way as methadone to minimize the withdrawal symptoms caused by stopping codeine abuse and the cravings that individuals feel for the drug. Suboxone contains buprenorphine, “a partial opioid agonist (i.e., it has agonist and antagonist properties)” (NIDA). Once the symptoms caused by quitting codeine are reduced, it is easier for patients to live their lives as they withdraw from the drug.
Patients are go through three phases with Suboxone: the induction phase, the stabilization phase, and the maintenance phase. Once the individual has been stabilized on the drug and is moved into the maintenance phase, they can conceivably stay on Suboxone for as long as necessary before they are taken off the drug by having a physician slowly taper the amount.
Safe from Abuse
Suboxone, unlike methadone, actually has a safeguard that keeps it from being abused as easily or as often. According to the NLM, “In the United States, the most commonly abused opioids are heroin and methadone.” It is difficult to avoid the possibility of methadone abuse because high enough doses will cause intoxication and euphoria; this is why methadone must be distributed at specialized clinics.
Suboxone contains naloxone, a full opioid antagonist, that helps protect the drug from abuse. When a person crushes the tablet in order to snort it or inject it, the naloxone in the drug precipitates withdrawal and causes the individual to feel all the symptoms immediately. This prevents users from abusing the drug as easily as they might abuse methadone.
Available at Doctors’ Offices
According to the FDA, Suboxone, and the buprenorphine-only brand drug Subutex, “are the first narcotic drugs available under the Drug Abuse Treatment Act (DATA) for 2000 for the treatment of opiate dependence that can be prescribed in a doctor’s office.” These medications are safer than methadone so they do not need to be dispensed by a specific type of clinic. That means Suboxone:
- Is easier to obtain
- Does not require the long wait times that methadone often does
- Can be prescribed to more individuals who need it
“Only qualified doctors with the necessary DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) identification number are able to start in-office treatment and provide prescriptions for ongoing medication.” But, if you do not have a methadone clinic near you, there is likely a doctor who can prescribe the medication in your area. In addition, you will often be given the drugs to administer at home, unlike methadone.
Suboxone is easier to obtain and safer than methadone in many ways. And, especially because many individuals who become addicted to codeine require a short withdrawal and treatment period (unlike those who need long-term maintenance for heroin abuse), Suboxone is a very beneficial treatment for this addiction syndrome.