One of the potential health consequences of chronic pain is opioid dependence. Opioids are a class of drugs that activate receptors in your nervous system that block pain and trigger the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine.
Though opioids provide relief from chronic pain, they also alter your brain chemistry and lead to opioid dependence, meaning you may need to take more of the drug to get the same effects. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, up to 29% of people prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse the drug.
At Orthopedic & Wellness, our experienced physicians — Dr. Ojedapo Ojeyemi and Dr. Matthew Roh — are pain management specialists. We understand the addictive power of opioids and offer many interventional pain management treatments to provide long-term relief.
We also use Suboxone® to help our patients get relief from their pain and reduce their dependence on opioids. Here, we share how we determine who’s a good candidate for Suboxone.
Suboxone is a prescription medication that treats adults addicted to or dependent on opioids. It comes as a dissolvable oral film that you place under your tongue or between your gum and cheek. Suboxone contains two active ingredients:
Buprenorphine is the ingredient in Suboxone that treats opioid addiction. It works by eliciting some of the same euphoric effects as opioids, but to a lesser degree. For opioid dependence, the buprenorphine reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of opioid drugs. The purpose of naloxone in Suboxone is to reduce risk of misuse and abuse. If you inject Suboxone instead of taking it sublingually as prescribed, the naloxone sends you into immediate opioid withdrawal.
Suboxone is FDA-approved for opioid addiction and dependence. It’s part of a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for substance abuse disorders that combines medication with behavioral therapy and counseling to treat the addiction and prevent a relapse.
Signs and symptoms that you or someone you love may be addicted to opioids include:
For our patients, we conduct comprehensive evaluations to determine if they’re good candidates for Suboxone. When developing treatment plans for opioid dependence and chronic pain, we take into consideration your health goals as well as your medical history.
You may not be a good candidate for Suboxone if you have kidney problems or a thyroid disorder. We also don’t recommend Suboxone for pregnant or nursing women.
If you’re not a good candidate for Suboxone because of an underlying health issue, we may recommend other therapies to treat your opioid addiction as well as your chronic pain.
When we determine that you’re a good candidate for Suboxone, you need to stop using your opioid for 12 to 24 hours. We can only give you the initial dose of Suboxone if you’re in the early stages of withdrawal. Taking Suboxone with opioids still in your system causes acute withdrawal symptoms.
Your Suboxone treatment occurs in three phases:
There’s no set time frame for the maintenance phase of your Suboxone treatment, but most patients gain the most benefits when they remain in the maintenance phase for 12-18 months.
Suboxone is safe for long-term use. You can continue the medication for the rest of your life, if needed.
Nobody thinks they’re going to develop an addiction when they start taking opioids to manage their pain condition.
If you have concerns about your opioid use and need help, call our office — we have three convenient locations: in Frederick, Waldorf, and Germantown, Maryland — or book a consultation online today.