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Opiate Addiction and Substitution Treatment

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Thousands of patients enter treatment for opiate addiction each month, trying to curtail their habit of such a powerful drug. The best for of treatment is by substituting the drug dependence with another drug. Substitution treatment replaces the use of opiates by a controlled use of Suboxone. The objective is to reduce the desire (“craving”) of prescription opiates.

For more than forty years, methadone was the only authorized drug effective in the treatment of opioid dependence. It is still widely used today; however some patients cannot tolerate methadone or have significant side effects, which sometimes encourage them to abandon their treatment.

Opiates are powerful narcotics that people are quickly becoming dependent upon. This strong dependence complicates the ability to cleanse the body of all remnants of the drug. Some withdrawal methods are better than other’s because of the person’s health and other situations. For example, individuals that do not exhibit a large dependence on the drug can take Suboxone for withdrawal treatment, and the same for pregnant women. Suboxone comes in the form of tablets, and can melt under the tongue. The drug effectively suppresses the withdrawal symptoms while producing a level of euphoria. Another significant point is that any physician, outside specialized centers, may prescribe this particular drug, unlike others.

Pharmacology of Suboxone

Opioids produce their euphoric and sedated effects by binding to different receptors on the surface of brain cells. Suboxone has similar characteristics to opiods, and thus reproduces only partially related effects to mimic the opioids. It also has a plateau in its effects so that, despite an increase of the dose, the effect will not be bigger, but it will last longer. Overall, it prevents other opioids from binding to these receptors in the brain and when taken regularly it prevents the symptoms that lead people to use other opioids. Substitution treatment is started at low doses, usually ranging from 2 to 8 mg of Suboxone per day.

Criterion for Treatment

There is always controversy when it comes to any substitution treatment of drugs. There are patients that fail to follow the rules, so outpatient treatment centers have established eligibility.

  • Established diagnosis of dependence
  • Patients aged 15 years and over
  • Confirmation of opioids by a urine test and medical history
  • Commitment to comply with the conditions stipulated in the contract
  • Free and informed consent to treatment, and consent to communication between the professionals involved in the treatment (typically the doctor and psychologist)
  • Medical evaluation: to document the addiction and any complications related to drug use (hepatitis A, B, or C, HIV-AIDS, etc)

Why Choose Suboxone drug substitution?

There is a broad consensus on the effectiveness of this type of treatment, particularly well documented. The results observed in people undergoing treatment for opioid dependence with a drug substitution are:

  • reduction in mortality, particularly the overdose
  • reducing consumption of prescription drugs, heroin and other street drugs
  • decrease criminal activity and incarceration;
  • reducing risk behaviors for transmission of HIV and hepatitis;
  • improving the quality of life (access to housing, return to the labor market, participation in social life, etc.)

These observations are common as patients remain in treatment, but the results rely heavily on the accuracy of dosages and the patient’s commitment to the addiction withdrawal treatment plan.

Do Patients Experience any Withdrawal Symptom?

Patients typically experience withdrawal symptoms with the first dose; however, this usually amounts to insomnia, irritability. The physician will stabilize the dosage for each patient to remove any withdrawal symptoms, and also to reduce opiate craving.

Under-dosing and Medicine Maintenance

The benefits of treatment are usually seen quickly so the physician will know if the medication dosage must be modified. Here are a few signs of under-dosing and the need for medicine maintenance.

  • Persistence of withdrawal symptoms
  • Desire to eat (craving)
  • Irritability, especially during the initiation of treatment
  • Sleep disorders including waking early

Several factors, such as the degree of dependence, the individual response to these drugs, any concomitant use of sedatives or drugs that may inhibit the metabolism of Suboxone are all considered when the physician prescribes the dosage.

Controversy is every where

So why would anyone choose to substitute one drug for another? Suboxone, the substitute drug helps more than 80 percent of drug users quickly manage and beat their opiate addiction, while getting better and have the ability to manage their lives. Without these substitute drugs most addicts would not go through the intense withdrawal symptoms in order to get clean.

Weaning from opiate addiction is difficult and presents many obstacles. In fact, it has been shown that half way through the withdrawal addicts are in so much pain they end up seeking a new prescription or illegally obtained opiates to numb that pain.

Suboxone quickly and effectively helps addicts beat their opiate addiction.

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