What Ways Can You Take Suboxone?
If you or a loved one is undergoing opioid maintenance therapy (OMT) or considering getting onto the program, then you might want to know a bit about the process involved. There are several medications that are prescribed for people undergoing OMT, the most common two being Methadone and Suboxone. There are several different ways that these drugs can be taken, and it could be helpful for you to figure out which way is best suited for you.
What is Suboxone?
Suboxone is the most popular medication for OMT, having replaced methadone in popularity and efficacy. Suboxone is the brand name to a medication that contains two ingredients:
Buprenorphine is the active ingredient in Suboxone. It’s a partial opioid agonist / antagonist, which is a bit of a mouthful. In layman’s terms, that means it partially activates the receptors responsible for giving a person an opiate high. The antagonist part means that, at a certain dose, it begins deactivating these receptors. That’s why buprenorphine is so attractive for OMT - it can’t be abused, because after a certain point, the drug limits itself in the amount of intoxication it can provide.
Naloxone is a controversial ingredient in Suboxonebecause it’s basically inert. On its own, naloxone is a powerful opioid antagonist and is used by medical professionals to reverse opioid overdoses. However, it doesn’t bind to receptors as strongly as buprenorphine. This means that it does nothing when combined with buprenorphine in a pill, and there’s some discrepancy as to why it’s even included in the medicine’s makeup.
There is also a form of buprenorphine that’s available in an isolated form in a medication known as Subutex. Subutex functions the exact same as Suboxone, the only difference being the inert addition of Naloxone in Suboxone. They work the same, but they’re made by different companies.
Ways to take Suboxone
Suboxone is available in several forms, and can be taken several ways. The way that you choose to use it may be determined by your doctor or you may be given the choice depending on the type of Suboxone you get prescribed.
Suboxone pills can be taken orally, that is, swallowed. However, buprenorphine - and most opioids, in fact - is not well absorbed by the lining of the stomach and most of it is destroyed. Only about 15-30% of the buprenorphine makes it into the bloodstream if the drug is swallowed.
Most Suboxone is available in either an easily dissolved pill or a film. These are meant to be taken sublingually, or under the tongue, because the bioavailability is much better. When you take a drug under the tongue, most of its absorbed into the mucous membranes of your gums and your cheeks. This allows the drug to be immediately absorbed into your bloodstream, which provides quicker effects.
Injection of Suboxone is not recommended. The common misconception is that’s because the naloxone is more active when it’s injected. This is a fallacy - naloxone and buprenorphine don’t change their chemical composition of pharmacology when infected. The reason you shouldn’t inject Suboxone is because injecting a pill is ridiculously dangerous. They’re full of binders, fillers, and all sorts of other things that you don’t want in your veins.
Buprenorphine can be delivered intravenously by medical professionals in hospitals or other similar environments. However, sublingual absorption provides nearly as much bioavailability and only takes a few minutes to become active, so very few professionals see the point in this.
Buprenorphine and its various preparations, like Suboxone, are powerful medications. They can be taken a number of ways, but orally and sublingual are the safest and most popular.
If you or a loved one are considering going on opioid maintenance therapy, you will want to choose between oral and sublingual usage. Oral use can be a good idea for people who don’t want to get too addicted to Suboxone - even the 2 mg starting dose is quite a high amount of active compound. Orally ingesting it allows you to only absorb a fraction of that dose.