Suboxone is a buprenorphine-based drug used to treat individuals in recovery from opiate or opioid abuse. Though not at first thought to be addiction-forming, some individuals abuse Suboxone. Some of the reported physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms of Suboxone abuse include:
- Impaired coordination
- Slurred speech
- Inability to think clearly
- Lying to doctors to get Suboxone
- Doctor shopping to get extra Suboxone
Suboxone abuse causes withdrawal symptoms to emerge when a person stops abusing this drug or significantly reduces their regular intake level. Withdrawal symptoms include cravings for Suboxone (or other opioids or opiates), diarrhea, flu-like symptoms, shaking, and/or muscle pain. There is a general recommendation that a person who wants to withdraw from Suboxone abuse do so under the care of a doctor who specializes in addiction treatment.
Abuse of Suboxone (buprenorphine is a main active ingredient) provides evidence of how difficult it is to treat opioid abuse.
Buprenorphine acts as an opiate partial agonist. When a person is in recovery from heroin (an opiate) or prescription opioid (pain relievers) abuse, buprenorphine helps to stop withdrawal symptoms from emerging. Buprenorphine has a low risk of abuse because, usually, the effects top out (i.e., taking more of this drug does not lead to psychoactive effects).
Buprenorphine is also the generic drug in the branded medication called Suboxone, which also contains the drug naloxone. Per the 2011 National Pain Report, about 9 million Suboxone or buprenorphine prescriptions were filled in the US that year. Suboxone is available in a pill or dissolvable film format.
Like methadone, Suboxone is classified as an opioid substitution therapy. Research shows that the combination of buprenorphine and naloxone is as therapeutically beneficial as methadone and carries a lower risk of abuse. Suboxone does not reportedly confer the high that can be experienced if a higher-than-needed amount of methadone is consumed.
However, Suboxone has become a drug of abuse. For instance, some individuals buy Suboxone on the street in order to prolong their heroin use (i.e., they use Suboxone to cope with withdrawal symptoms and then go back to using heroin). Although Suboxone was not at first thought to be susceptible to abuse, there are reports of it causing a high when abused.
According to one story published in The Fix, the first time the author took a sublingual film of Suboxone, he became extremely high. He had no history of narcotic or other drug abuse. He shares that Suboxone made him overcome his shyness, provoked him to be talkative, and covered his body in a warm feeling. He quickly lapsed in addiction and has struggled with it for the last several years. He reports that he has not made a full recovery, but he has learned how to better manage his Suboxone intake. His story shows how careful one must be not to abuse Suboxone, whether you have a history of substance abuse or not.
Physical Symptoms of Suboxone Addiction
It is helpful to distinguish between symptoms and signs of Suboxone addiction. Symptoms are the side effects of Suboxone use that a person feels. When one person sees another experiencing a symptom, that’s a sign. The following are some of the physical symptoms associated with Suboxone abuse or taking too much of this drug:
- 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
The following are some of the more common symptoms associated with Suboxone withdrawal:
- Shaking or shivering
- Muscle pain
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Feeling cold or very hot
- Cravings for the drug
As The Fix explains, Suboxone abuse is also associated with a host of psychological symptoms. The following are some of the most commonly reported:
- Poor memory
- Erratic behavior
- Shifts in mood
When Suboxone is used for its intended purpose, under the care of a doctor, there is little risk of severe side effects or death. However, individuals who abuse Suboxone have, so to speak, gone off the grid and are in dangerous territory. A Suboxone overdose can depress respiration to a fatal point. When a fatal overdose occurs, there is often alcohol or other drug abuse involved. The fact that some individuals mix Suboxone with alcohol or illicit drugs is a testament to how unaware people are of the potency of this narcotic.
Behavioral Symptoms of Suboxone Addiction
As The Fix discusses, it can be difficult for a concerned person to pinpoint Suboxone abuse based on physical or psychological symptoms. When people experience the behavioral symptoms associated with Suboxone abuse, people in their surroundings are likely going to take them as signs of a problem. The following are some of the most common behavioral symptoms of Suboxone abuse:
- Loss of interest in activities, hobbies, or social outings that were enjoyed in the past
- Isolating oneself from family and friends to abuse Suboxone or defend it from any challenges or criticisms
- Having a hard time keeping up with family, work, job, or school responsibilities because of the Suboxone abuse
- Sleeping excessively or having trouble sleeping
- Draining financial resources to fund Suboxone abuse
- Lying and manipulating others in order to protect and continue Suboxone abuse
- Stealing in order to pay for Suboxone
- Stealing the drug itself
- Having obsessive thoughts and actions related to Suboxone, such as taking all measures necessary to ensure one does not run out of it