Opioid abuse and dependence is a serious concern that can often require a long-term treatment plan involving medication-assisted therapy. One of the drugs typically prescribed within an opioid dependence treatment plan, along with counseling, is Suboxone.
Suboxone is a combination product of buprenorphine and naloxone. The only form of Suboxone currently available on the drug market is a sublingual film, following the discontinuation of its tablet form in 2013.
Although Suboxone is considered relatively safe and effective for treating opioid addiction when taken as prescribed, people who take Suboxone in any way other than directed are at greater risk for developing dependence. This may be more common in people who are not participating in a formal treatment program for their opioid addiction.
Due to its weaker, yet similar effects to more addictive opioids such as heroin, Suboxone also has the potential for misuse among people who are not recovering from opioid dependency. In this instance, a loved one may take Suboxone doses from another person’s prescription, or buy it illegally through a dealer.
Learning the signs and symptoms of Suboxone abuse may be helpful if you are concerned about a loved one who is either:
- taking it for opioid dependency
- has others means of access to Suboxone, such as someone else in the household with a prescription
Below are five common signs of Suboxone abuse to watch out for if you are concerned about a loved one with access to the drug:
1. Taking Suboxone More Often Directed
Taking Suboxone as prescribed carries some risk for dependence, but is considered less severe than other opioids and can be managed with proper treatment. Using Suboxone films more often, or in greater amounts than prescribed, however, can increase this risk for quicker and more severe dependence.
Doses for drugs like Suboxone are carefully calculated according to a patient’s personal needs for treatment. Changing this dosage, especially without notifying your doctor, can cause more intense effects that may be addictive for someone overcoming opioid addiction.
While you may not always watch your loved one take their prescribed dose of Suboxone, running out of a prescription early can be one sign that they are using greater quantities than directed.
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2. Visiting Multiple Doctors To Get More Suboxone
People who become dependent on Suboxone may develop a higher tolerance to the drug quicker, or crave greater amounts of it than they can get with one prescription. This can lead some people with an addiction to visit multiple doctors or find alternative sources to expand their supply. This drug-seeking behavior is commonly referred to as “doctor-shopping”.
3. Noticing Missing Valuables Or Money
Buying Suboxone from alternative sources off the street, or getting multiple prescriptions from more than one doctor may become an expensive habit. People who earn a lower income or do not have health insurance for their prescriptions may steal money from friends, family, or trade-in valuables for cash to pay for more Suboxone.
People who are abusing Suboxone may also take doses from another person’s supply. Taking these extra doses can be dangerous for your loved one and for the person who is missing doses from their prescription.
4. Physical Symptoms Of Suboxone Abuse
Some of the most visible signs that a person is abusing Suboxone are the physical symptoms that can come from taking high doses of the drug.
When taken as directed, Suboxone can have side effects that include:
- changes in weight
- stomach pain
- blurred vision
- back pain
- numbness or redness of the mouth
Taking larger amounts of Suboxone, however, can cause these side effects to be even more intense and may strongly impact a person’s ability to function in their normal routine. It may also cause additional physical symptoms that are less common in those who take the drug as directed.
These other symptoms of Suboxone abuse and addiction can include:
- dilated pupils
- loss of appetite
- unexplained weight loss
- decreased coordination
- runny nose
- unusual changes in mood or behavior
- low sex drive
5. Strange Or Unusual Behavior
In addition to physical symptoms, someone who is abusing Suboxone may also begin to act differently, affecting how they interact with others and go about their day.
Common changes in behavior among people who abuse Suboxone include:
- talking about Suboxone often
- preoccupied with getting more of the drug
- showing less interest in activities or interests they used to enjoy
- avoiding friends, family members, or other loved ones
- missing counseling appointments or support group sessions
- acting defensive when confronted about Suboxone use
It can be very dangerous for someone who is overcoming opioid dependency to abuse drugs like Suboxone, due to the risk that they will return to their previous opioid abuse. If you notice signs that your loved one is abusing Suboxone, it is important to try and seek help for them right away.
Treatment For Suboxone (Buprenorphine) Abuse In Ohio
If you are concerned that someone you care about is abusing Suboxone, treatment is available. Although it can be discouraging and scary to watch someone you care about struggle with addiction, recovery is possible with a structured treatment plan and support system.
The most effective type of treatment for someone overcoming opioid dependence and Suboxone abuse is an inpatient drug rehab program. At our Ohio-based treatment facility, The Bluffs, we provide personalized treatment plans for patients based on their past history of drug use and other personal needs.
For people who have become dependent on Suboxone, this treatment plan will likely begin with medically-supervised detox. This offers 24/7 medical supervision as your loved one undergoes the early stages of Suboxone withdrawal, a process that can be highly uncomfortable without medical support.
Learn more about the warning signs of Suboxone abuse and our drug abuse treatment programs at The Bluffs by contacting one of our treatment specialists today.