How it Works to Treat Opioid Addiction
Buprenorphine is an opioid addiction and pain medication. It is a partial opioid agonist, which means it works by binding to the same brain receptors that opioids like heroin, oxycodone, and fentanyl do, but with less intensity.
As a result, buprenorphine can reduce opioid cravings and alleviate withdrawal symptoms while not producing the same high or increasing risk of overdose as full opioid agonists. Buprenorphine is typically prescribed in conjunction with naloxone (marketed as Suboxone), which helps to prevent misuse by causing withdrawal symptoms if the medication is crushed and injected.
Because it has a lower potential for abuse, can be prescribed by specially trained doctors outside of specialized clinics, and can be taken at home, buprenorphine is considered a safer and more effective alternative to methadone for opioid addiction treatment. In some cases, it is also used to treat chronic pain, though its use for pain management is less common.
How effective is Suboxone-assisted medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder?
Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) medication-assisted treatment (MAT) has been shown to be highly effective in treating opioid use disorder (OUD).
MAT with Suboxone has been shown in studies to reduce opioid use, cravings, and withdrawal symptoms, as well as increase treatment retention when compared to non-medication-based treatments. MAT has also been linked to fewer overdose deaths and other negative health outcomes.
Furthermore, MAT with Suboxone has been shown to improve social functioning and quality of life in people with OUD. It can also be used as a long-term maintenance treatment to help people stay in recovery and avoid relapse.
It should be noted, however, that MAT with Suboxone is only one component of a comprehensive treatment approach that may also include counseling, behavioral therapies, and other support services. Individual circumstances, such as the severity of the addiction, the presence of co-occurring mental health disorders, and the availability of support and resources, can all influence treatment outcomes.
Is it safe to receive medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder online?
When provided by licensed healthcare professionals who use evidence-based practices and adhere to established guidelines, online medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder (OUD) can be safe and effective.
Telemedicine has become more common and accessible, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it can be used to provide MAT services to people who have limited access to healthcare or are unable to travel to in-person appointments.
It is important to note, however, that not all online MAT services are legitimate or safe. Some fraudulent providers may provide unapproved medications or inadequate care, endangering patients. As a result, it’s critical to do your homework and make sure the provider is licensed and accredited, follows established treatment protocols, and provides ongoing monitoring and support.
Furthermore, certain aspects of in-person MAT, such as physical exams, drug testing, and counseling sessions, may be more difficult to replicate online. As a result, online MAT may not be appropriate for everyone and should be evaluated on an individual basis.
Finally, the safety and effectiveness of online MAT will be determined by a number of factors, including the provider’s qualifications and experience, the appropriateness of the treatment for the individual, and the availability of support and resources.
What advantages does Suboxone/Buprenorphine have over methadone?
Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) has several advantages over methadone in the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD):
Lower risk of overdose: When compared to methadone, buprenorphine has a lower risk of overdose, especially in the early stages of treatment, because it has a ceiling effect on respiratory depression, which means that its effects on breathing plateau at a certain dose.
Less severe withdrawal symptoms: Because buprenorphine has a longer half-life than methadone, it remains in the body longer and can cause less severe withdrawal symptoms when a dose is missed.
Lower abuse potential: Buprenorphine has a lower abuse potential than methadone because it has a partial agonist effect, which means it produces less of a “high” than methadone.
Buprenorphine can be prescribed outside of specialized clinics by specially trained doctors, whereas methadone can only be dispensed in a licensed opioid treatment program.
Less stigmatizing: Buprenorphine may be perceived as less stigmatizing than methadone because it is a newer medication, which has been associated with negative stereotypes and misconceptions.
Overall, Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) is thought to be a safer and more convenient alternative to methadone for OUD treatment, though the medication should be chosen based on individual needs and circumstances, such as the severity of the addiction, the presence of co-occurring mental health disorders, and the availability of support and resources.