Addiction to any substance can be tragic for everyone involved — users and loved ones — but few drugs are as devastating to one’s life as opioids. Opioids are a major problem in the United States, with about 10.1 million people aged 12 and up misusing opioids or opiates in 2019. Among the 10.1 million, 745,000 used heroin, while 9.7 million abused prescription opioids.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, the synthetic variant fentanyl, and legally prescribed pain medications such as oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin), codeine, morphine, and more. Opioids operate by binding to mu-opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain and body to improve pain. These drugs are incredibly efficient for pain relief. However, they can quickly become extremely addictive and harmful substances that destroy lives.
What Is Opioid Use Disorder?
Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) is defined as a person’s inability to stop using opioids, despite negative social, financial, and health consequences. The early stages of addiction, especially to prescribed opioid medications, can be difficult to notice. The lines between medication, self-medication, recreation, and abuse blur slowly. Opioids trigger the release of endorphins, which are the “feel-good” neurotransmitters in the brain. Chronic use of opioids causes the body to slow down its natural production and release of endorphins, meaning users need more and more narcotics to get the same euphoric, pain-relieving effects they once felt. This can often put users on stronger opioid medications and illegal substances like heroin.
Some signs that you or a loved one could be addicted to opioids include:
- Inability to control opioid use
- Cravings for drug use
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Fluctuating sleep habits
- Weight loss or gain
- Frequent flu-like symptoms
- Changes in exercise habits
- Isolation from family and friends
- Stealing from family, friends, or businesses
What Is Suboxone?
The brand-name medication Suboxone contains two other drugs commonly used in medication-assisted treatments: buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a weak partial opioid agonist. It binds itself to the receptors in the brain that heroin and prescription opioids do but does not produce the same intense feelings of euphoria. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, which halts the effects of opioids and serves to deter misuse. During opioid addiction treatment, Suboxone is used to manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. It is typically administered sublingually (under the tongue) until it dissolves.
Does Suboxone Get You High?
Suboxone comprises a partial opioid agonist, which causes the receptors in the brain to release less dopamine. This means that Suboxone does not produce a high for those who take it as prescribed and directed in a clinical setting. However, if someone is opiate-naïve, they may feel a euphoric sensation. Moreover, injecting Suboxone can be hazardous, as it causes severe opioid withdrawal symptoms. Misuse of Suboxone can lead to addiction, overdose, and even death.
We Can Help You
Opioid addiction presents catastrophic outcomes for anyone involved. If you or a loved one are struggling with opioid use disorder, please reach out to us. Withdrawal can be a daunting prospect, however, the detoxification process can be eased and you can become sober; and we can help you.