The drug Suboxone is manufactured by Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals Inc. to treat those dependent on opioids, such as opium, painkillers (codeine, morphine, etc) or heroin. The drug is designed to be used with a combination of clinical therapy as well as psychological and social counselling, and can only be prescribed by a qualified physician once the right medical examinations have been completed.
Suboxone is produced by combining two different chemicals: buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic opioid which has a higher binding affinity to neural receptors than substances such as heroin or opium. This property reduces the effect that drugs such as these have on the brain by blocking the appropriate receptors. This, in turn, aids in the overall rehabilitation process by limiting both the euphoric effects and the withdrawal symptoms that these illicit drugs have on an individual. Naloxone, on the other hand, blocks the effects of opioids and can counter the symptoms felt during an overdose. It was added to Suboxone as a safety measure as its properties can dissuade people from using the drug recreationally with other opiates.
Currently, Suboxone comes as both a tablet and a film. The tablet is orange and is hexagonally-shaped. It has the letters N8 on one side and a picture of a cross on the other. The film is small, rectangular and orange, and has the company brand written over the front in white ink. It is designed to dissolve quickly in the mouth making the ingestion process even faster. Both forms are legally available only when prescribed by a qualified physician. They are taken once each day, or following the doctor’s orders, and allow the user to treat their addiction in a faster, more efficient manner than traditional rehabilitation therapy.
An individual taking Suboxone to treat their drug dependence will be effectively replacing one addiction with another. However, Suboxone has milder symptoms when compared with illicit drugs such as opium or heroin. In theory it should be easier for a person to wean themselves off Suboxone than it would be to simply go cold turkey. In addition to this, the overall withdrawal symptoms of Suboxone are typically less extreme than those experienced by individuals trying to quit heroin or opium.
Suboxone Side Effects and Warnings
While Suboxone is a globally approved addiction treatment drug, it is still known to cause minor side effects in a small number of users. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- general withdrawal symptoms
The following more severe Suboxone side effects may also be felt, although they is generally rare among those taking the drug. Just be aware that this list is far from extensive and those interested in taking this medication should always consult with their physician before purchasing:
- blurred vision
- loss of appetite
- slow reflexes
- slurred speech
- yellow eyes and / or skin
- swollen ankles, feet and/or hands
- shallow breathing
- persistent dizziness
- dark-colored urine
- confused state of mind
Suboxone treatment is safe for the majority of those undergoing rehabilitation for opioid dependence. However, it should never be taken by pregnant women and those under 16 years of age. This is because relatively little research has been conducted concerning the effects of the drug on children and unborn babies. Until more data is uncovered, younger addicts and pregnant women may be advised to talk to a qualified medical professional about alternatives to treat their specific kind of addiction.
Recreational Use of Suboxone
Because Suboxone contains the opioid, buprenorphine, it can still be addictive. Thus, many people use it to experience a high in a similar manner to taking other, more common illicit substances. When taken recreationally, the drug is usually taken under the tongue, injected or snorted for its euphoric rush. However, the effects of buprenorphine are limited and may wear off after taking a few tablets or pieces of film over several days. Nevertheless, Suboxone is still sold by illegal drug dealers in countries such as the US, the UK and Australia.
While some people purchase Suboxone to achieve a high, the majority of illicit users take it for its addiction treatment properties. By purchasing from a black market dealer, an individual can gain access to the drug’s beneficial effects without the purchase appearing on his or her medical record. By self-medicating in this way, a user can gradually wean themselves off their opioid addiction. Because of the compounds involved though, this individually guided treatment can be dangerous. It is much better to proceed under the guiding hand of a medical professional.
Around the world, Suboxone is known by a myriad of street names. Some of the most common ones are listed below:
- US: Sobos, stops, stop signs, oranges, Texas toast, subs, tecs
- UK: Bupey, subs, xone, subway, subbies, gesics
- Australia: Silverbacks, bupe, poor man’s smack, s-box
Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals has attempted to stop the recreational use of Suboxone by combining the chemical, naloxone, with buprenorphine. These two substances decrease the chances of someone taking the drug by any method other than simple ingestion. If injected, naloxone will block the euphoric effects of buprenorphine and immediately cause the user to experience withdrawal. Through ingestion, an individual can still experience a small high. However, this high is temporary and much less severe compared that of the illicit substances Soboxone was designed to combat.
Those who suspect someone of abusing Suboxone should immediately consult with a medical professional about the best course of action. Even though it has been created to fight the addiction of more common substances, such as heroin or opium, it can also be used to achieve a euphoric high. This means that intervention and rehabilitation may be necessary for individuals who have become dependent on this legal but addictive opioid.