Suboxone Detox and MAT

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How Suboxone Detox Works

Suboxone is a brand name formulation of a drug called buprenorphine combined with naloxone, which helps prevent potential abuse. Suboxone detox has been around since 2002 when the product was created by combining the two drugs. However, many will be surprised to hear that buprenorphine has existed since the 1970s. The buprenorphine is really the important part of the Suboxone detox process as it is the chemical that’s doing the majority of the work. Let’s take a look at how buprenorphine works in the brain to understand why it is useful for both opioid detox and medication assisted treatment and maintenance or harm reduction.

How Does Suboxone Work?

Buprenorphine, the primary active ingredient in Suboxone, is what is called a partial opioid agonist. This means it partially works as an opioid in the brain, but its effect is weaker than full opioid agonists, like heroin, oxycodone and conventional opioids. It binds to opioid receptors and creates enough of an opioid effect to stave off withdrawal symptoms, but without creating the euphoric “high” and many of the other side effects of conventional opioids. This makes it especially useful for Suboxone detox and medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Buprenorphine also has an especially strong binding action to the brain’s opioid receptors. This means it takes longer to leave the brain, which, in a Suboxone detox setting, means it can be used to gently bring someone off of opioids while avoiding the majority of withdrawal discomfort.

The binding action combined with the lack of euphoria and the ceiling effect makes it a very effective MAT and maintenance solution for high-risk clients. The ceiling effect essentially means that there is a limit or “ceiling” to the effects. A person can take a larger than prescribed amount of Suboxone, but they still aren’t going to get the euphoric high that a full opioid agonist produces no matter how much they take. The addiction of naloxone, an opioid antagonist, to the Suboxone branded formulation also prevents any attempt to use Suboxone in a way other than prescribed, such as creating a solution and injecting it. Doing this would activate the naloxone, which is the active ingredient in NARCAN, thereby shutting down any effect (and also the effect of any opioid agonists which may be present). 


Advantages of Suboxone Detox and MAT at TruHealing Centers:

  • The safety and security of 24-hour detox nurses on duty for observation.
  • Suboxone substantially reduces both withdrawal symptoms and cravings
  • Counseling and therapy are available as soon as the client is willing and ready.
  • Longer term MAT and Suboxone treatment is helpful for some high-risk clients
  • Additional addiction treatment is available at TruHealing Centers for continuity of care.


Suboxone Detox and MAT

Suboxone detox is aided by the binding effect, but this effect also makes Suboxone a useful MAT and harm reduction measure. The buprenorphine in Suboxone not only helps ward off withdrawal symptoms and opioid cravings, it also occupies opioid receptors. Opioid receptors which are already occupied by buprenorphine cannot admit a new opioid molecule which is a full agonist. In simple language, even if someone who is taking Suboxone regularly “slips up” and uses heroin, oxycodone or a similar drug, it will have very little of the euphoric effect that reinforces abuse.


They won’t really get “high”, because buprenorphine molecules are extra-sticky and won’t allow them access to the opioid receptors in the brain they need to connect to in order to create the high. The substantial reduction in craving, suppression of withdrawal symptoms and binding effect which blocks full opioid agonists provides threefold protection for people in Suboxone detox or MAT. This protection helps safeguard newly emerging recovery and is an evidence-based treatment that measurably improves outcomes for people being treated for opioid use disorders.

Myths About Suboxone Detox and MAT

TruHealing Centers became one of the country’s most trusted healthcare providers by delivering high quality evidence-based addiction treatment. Evidence based treatment focuses on data and outcomes. Clinical research shows that clients who participate in Suboxone detox and MAT with Suboxone stay sober longer and are more likely to succeed in recovery.


Another one of TruHealing Centers’ responsibilities as a standard bearer for advanced addiction care is education. It is important for the public to have the facts about Suboxone detox and MAT or maintenance. Both to dissuade stigma and misunderstanding and to empower opioid-addicted clients and their families with knowledge of their options. To that end, we are going to bust a few myths about Suboxone.


MYTH:  People on Suboxone aren’t “sober” or in recovery.


FACT: Suboxone does not create a euphoric effect or “high” like opioid agonists. It isn’t the same at all. Recovery is about intent. A person who accidentally eats a chocolate containing alcohol hasn’t fallen off the wagon because there was no intent to get drunk. A person taking Suboxone as prescribed isn’t trying to “get high” they are trying to recover, and they are in fact recovering.


MYTH:  People often abuse Suboxone.


FACT: Technically you can misuse any medication. However, even taking more Suboxone than prescribed does not create the kind of euphoric high that true opioid agonists do, no matter how much you take, due to the ceiling effect. Furthermore, incidences of Suboxone misuse are rare. It would not be a widely used clinical tool in Suboxone detox and addiction treatment if this wasn’t the case.


MYTH:  Suboxone is just “trading one drug for another”. It’s a crutch.


FACTNo one would shame a diabetic for taking insulin. It’s a medication they are using to protect their health and potentially save their own lives. Suboxone, taken as prescribed, is a medication to protect health and save lives. No one shames a person with a broken foot for using a crutch. A crutch is a piece of durable medical equipment used to help a person with a disability to function normally. Suboxone is a medication used to help a person with a disease recovery and return to normal functioning.


TruHealing Centers: A Trusted Partner

The value of Suboxone detox and MAT is unquestionable. These treatment options save lives and help safeguard recover. Research and experience bear this out. Our mission is to help people recover from substance use disorders, find and treat co-occurring disorders and help foster long-term recovery. TruHealing Centers is more than a healthcare provider. We’re a partner for recovery. We are ready to give you or your loved one everything they need for successful recovery. All that’s needed to begin is enough willingness to try


You Don’t Have To Go It Alone

If you or a loved one would like more information on dual diagnosis treatment, Truhealing Addiction Services can help! Contact us today to discuss your treatment options with an addiction treatment specialist. 

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