Suboxone Treatment: How To Support Your Loved One

Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) is a drug for addiction therapy (MAT) that is provided by a registered medical physician to treat opioid addiction (such as oxycodone, percocets, vicodin, heroin, and fentanyl).

12/21/20226 min read

Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) is a drug for addiction therapy (MAT) that is provided by a registered medical physician to treat opioid addiction (such as oxycodone, percocets, vicodin, heroin, and fentanyl).

It aids in long-term recovery by reducing cravings, minimizing withdrawal, and preventing opiate misuse. It is exceedingly difficult to overdose while using this medication, and it can be taken safely for years. Constipation, nausea/vomiting, sweating, itching, and sexual issues are all frequent side effects, as are other opioids. To minimize these adverse effects, a patient should consult with their doctor.

Buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) should make a person feel "normal," not "high" or "sedated," allowing them to engage in healthy and responsible actions such as going to work, caring for their children, paying bills, exercising, and eating nutritious foods when taken as prescribed.

Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) should be used as part of a larger treatment plan that includes behavioral therapy and other supportive treatments (such as AA/NA meetings, Smart Recovery, finding a sponsor, spirituality, and self-care). We seek to dispel widespread misconceptions regarding Suboxone treatment among family members.

The First Myth is That Addiction Is A 'Curable' Disease

Fact: Addiction is a chronic brain condition in which a person seeks out and takes substances on a regular basis, despite the negative consequences. It can disrupt how the brain operates, affecting emotions, thoughts, and memories, leading to additional bad activities, and generating problematic relationships with family and friends, in addition to damaging a person's health.

Patients should not expect to be "cured" of their opioid addiction condition at any point in their lives. Patients, like those with other chronic disorders, can seek to reduce the negative consequences of their condition by adopting a healthy lifestyle in recovery, which commonly includes both drugs and behavioral support.

  • Slip: an impulsive action that occurs only once and is followed by regret.

  • Lapse: a return to a time-limited addictive behavior with less quick insight.

  • Relapse is defined as a return to one's previous degree of use or troublesome behavior.

We also know that, because addiction is a chronic condition, people in recovery are more prone to experience relapse, which occurs when they lose control of their addiction and revert to their former drug-related behaviors for a period of time. Relapses occur in almost all chronic illnesses, including high blood pressure and diabetes.

As a result, it's critical to accept relapse as a normal part of the healing process. Instead of criticizing patients who relapse, we should work with them to help them get back on track.

Misconception #2: "Suboxone Treatment is Really a Trade-off Between Two Addictions." ‍
Fact: It's critical to understand a person's values and ambitions while assisting someone who is battling with addiction. Most patients feel shame and remorse about their addiction and how it has damaged their lives; they are not proud of who they have become as a result of their addiction.

If their goals are to get back to work, reconnect with friends and family and regain their trust, pay off their bills, and take on other important responsibilities so they can feel like a contributing member of society, and buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) helps them achieve these goals, it should be embraced as one strategy to reclaim control of their lives and find meaning and fulfillment. ‍

Misconception #3: "With Suboxone, Recovering Addicts Shouldn't Be Trusted"

Buprenorphine/naloxone abuse is extremely difficult (Suboxone). Patients are aware that Suboxone stops illicit substances from binding to opioid receptors in their brains, thus they are less likely to relapse when Suboxone is present. As a result, the majority of patients who take Suboxone do so because they do not want to use illicit narcotics and want to be in recovery.

Misconception #4: "Going Cold Turkey is the Only Way to 'Cure' Addiction"
Fact: When compared to drugs that treat opioid addiction (such as buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone), methadone, or naltrexone), abstinence-only therapy (meaning no pharmaceuticals) has a greater relapse rate. In fact, 90 percent of patients who detox from opioids but do not start one of these drugs will relapse within the first three months.

They are at a significant risk of overdosing and dying as a result of this. They have a much better probability of staying in recovery if they start taking one of these drugs. Patients who are on drugs do better, according to doctors who treat addiction.

5th Myth: "Suboxone Treatment Doesn't Work"
Fact: When compared to no medication, buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) therapy has a high recovery rate; approximately 50% of patients will remain in recovery 12 months after starting buprenorphine/naloxone therapy (Suboxone). According to this study, buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) therapy reduces mortality rates in treated patients by two-thirds.

Key Point: Patients who were not in treatment (detoxed from opioids but not put on medication like Suboxone or methadone) died at a rate of about 6 times that of the general population, whereas patients who were treated with buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) or methadone died at a rate of less than 2 times that of the general population. ‍

6th Myth: Suboxone Users Aren't Sober

Patients who are prescribed buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) should feel "normal," not "high" or "sedated." They should be fully capable of accomplishing their daily tasks to the best of their abilities, whether they are working, driving, caring for their children, exercising, or anything else. As a result, clinicians refer to buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) users as "in remission." ‍

Misconception #7: "Suboxone Treatment is a Sign of Lack of Determination to Quit Addiction."

Fact: Addiction, like high blood pressure and diabetes, is a chronic medical condition. It is neither a moral nor a willpower failure. Even if patients do not want to take illicit opioids, they do so to escape the unpleasant sensations of cravings and withdrawal.

Patients suffering from addiction frequently experience great shame and guilt as a result of their prolonged use. Treatment with buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) causes the opioid receptors in the brain to stabilize, allowing patients to feel normal and make adjustments in their lifestyle, behaviors, and psychiatric problems that are more compatible with their values. Suboxone assists people in transitioning to a life of recovery rather than relapse. ‍

Myth #8: "My loved One Should Only Be on Suboxone For a Short Time, Then Get Off it As Quickly as Possible."
Buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) can be taken for years without side effects. We know that it takes at least 6 months for the brain to begin to rewire back to normal after starting buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) treatment, and at least 18 months for the brain to return to more normal functioning (meaning patients can think more clearly and make more rational decisions, are in touch with their emotions, and their memory has returned to normal).

As a result, patients should take buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) for as long as they need it. There's no need to haste when it comes to getting off. If patients are considering of quitting, they should first show that they can function normally in their daily life (working, taking care of their responsibilities, having a good support system, and able to manage stress in healthy ways).

Any attempts to wean themselves off of buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) should be done slowly and under the supervision of their doctor. ‍

How can you support someone you care about who is recovering from an opioid addiction?
Learn about the buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) treatment options.

Join networks of people who have loved ones who are battling addiction. These organizations can also assist you in gaining a better understanding of addiction. Here are some national support organizations that you can join.

Avoid stigmatizing language and encourage more respectable terms.

Words like "addict," "junky," "clean," and "filthy" should be avoided. Rather, refer to persons as "in recovery" or "struggling with opioid addiction."

Set realistic goals for yourself

Recognize that "relapse is an inevitable element of the rehabilitation process." Instead of condemning and shaming your loved one if they relapse, assist them in getting back on track.

Small victories should be celebrated.

"One day at a time," or even "one hour at a time," is what we tell patients who are battling with addiction; one hour can turn into two, and two hours can develop into three. Any moment spent without using drugs should be celebrated!

Assist with emotional issues

Create a caring, judgment-free environment. Patients suffering from addiction are frequently filled with feelings of shame and remorse. What they really need is someone who isn't going to judge them and is willing to help. Rebuilding a relationship with a loved one on Suboxone might be extremely beneficial to them during their recovery.

Put your faith in the experts.

Misinformation abounds on the internet and in search engines; rather than learning about addiction from dubious sites that may propagate misconceptions, turn to professional and respected addiction resources that are based on medical science. Here are two excellent sources with dependable information:

If you are concerned about a loved one's behavior, express your worry and assure them that you are available to assist them. Here are two useful websites with extra information (videos and audio files) on HOW to have this conversation:

Always remember to look after yourself. Being a caretaker for someone who is addicted to something can be extremely stressful and emotionally demanding. You can get more information and therapy referrals for yourself or a loved one by contacting 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for free and confidential information.

Because relapse is a possibility, all friends and family members should have naloxone (an opioid overdose reversal medicine) and know how to administer it. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has information on how to utilize naloxone (also known as "narcan"). There's a terrific 5-minute video that will teach you everything you need to know: