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Wellness North Uses Suboxone for Safe, Comfortable Opiate Detox

At Wellness North, clients who are looking to withdraw from opiates can do so safely and comfortably through the use of Suboxone, a medication that virtually stops withdrawal symptoms from opiate drugs such as Vicodin, heroin, codeine, morphine, and OxyContin. The drug is only used during the detoxification period so that once a client is stabilized, he or she can be free from the debilitating effects of opiate addiction. Our consulting physicians assess the client's need for Suboxone and determine the appropriate course of treatment.

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is approved to treat withdrawal from opiates and is one of two forms of

the medication buprenorphine, which is an opiate agonist that was originally

developed to treat pain syndromes. Suboxone binds to the opioid receptor in the

brain, which is the same receptor to which morphine, heroin, and other opiates bind. What makes Suboxone unique and valuable in addiction treatment is that it is a partial agonist. This means that at low doses, it acts the same as any other opiate in suppressing pain. But as the dosage is increased, it starts to block the opioid receptor, and doesn't allow it to be stimulated. This allows clinicians to stop withdrawal symptoms without having to worry that the patient will begin abusing Suboxone. In addition, Suboxone makes it impossible to get high on other opiates. If someone is taking Suboxone and then uses heroin or OxyContin, they won't feel any euphoria from the illicit drugs.

How is it used at Wellness North?

If an opiate user were to stop abruptly-or "cold turkey"-he or she would go into

withdrawal within a few hours, which includes sweating, racing heartbeat, nausea,

muscle pain, inability to sleep, and severe anxiety. When a patient arrives at

Wellness North, he or she has likely taken their last dose of opiates within 4-12

hours and may already be experiencing mild withdrawal symptoms. One of our

consulting physicians will assess the client then prescribe Suboxone and monitor the client's progress throughout detox. Once mild symptoms are present, the patient is given a dose of Suboxone. It is important that Suboxone not be given until mild symptoms show, as it could actually precipitate withdrawal symptoms if given too early.

Is it Addictive?

Drugs that have the greatest abuse potential are those with a short half-life and that are absorbed quickly into the brain. Suboxone has a very long half-life and absorbs slowly through the blood vessels under the tongue, so it has a much lower addiction potential than other prescription opiates (Viconden, Percocet, Oxycontin) and heroin. Because the naloxone prevents it from being used intravenously, its addiction potential is further reduced.

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