Over the past two decades, roughly 841,000 people have died of drug overdoses in the United States, and every year, the number of opioid-related deaths increases. Recent statistics show that of all the drug-related deaths in the US, almost three-quarters involve opioids.
Opioids are frequently prescribed to treat acute and chronic pain. Although they can be effective in relieving symptoms, they can also be highly addictive, quickly leading to dependence.
At Affordable & Restorative Health in Nashville, Tennessee, Winston Griner, MD, helps patients overcome opioid addiction with custom treatment plans that often include a medicine called Suboxone®. If you or a loved one is battling opioid addiction, here’s how Suboxone could help.
How opioids cause addiction
Your body produces “natural opioids,” chemicals that bind with receptors on your nerve cells. This helps dull pain and increases feelings of euphoria. Endorphins are a well-known example of the body’s natural pain opioids.
Opioid drugs also bind to opioid receptors, acting like artificial endorphins and creating similar effects — a reduction in pain and feelings of euphoria. Not surprisingly, when you stop taking an opioid, you may notice a negative change in your mood.
Addiction often begins when a person becomes “hooked” on the feel-good effects of opioids and continues to take the drug even after they no longer need it.
When you take an opioid for an extended period, your body responds by decreasing the production of natural endorphins. That means you’ll need a higher dose of opioids to trigger the same reaction. This is another major factor that leads to opioid addiction.
How Suboxone works
Suboxone is a medication that reduces opioid cravings and other withdrawal symptoms that can make it very difficult to stop taking the drugs. It’s composed of two drugs: buprenorphine and naloxone.
Buprenorphine binds strongly to opioid receptors, preventing other opioids from attaching to nerve cells, so their effects are dramatically reduced.
At the same time, buprenorphine helps produce a lower level of good sensations to help you feel “normal” while preventing cravings and significant withdrawal symptoms.
Naloxone also binds to opioid receptors. In Suboxone, its primary purpose is to modulate the effects of buprenorphine to prevent dependence.
While methadone acts in a similar way to treat opioid addiction, Suboxone has longer binding power, resulting in fewer side effects. Plus, while methadone is currently only available through special clinics, Dr. Griner can prescribe Suboxone as part of an outpatient drug treatment program.
Break the cycle of addiction
Dr. Griner uses Suboxone as part of his patient-centered approach to individualized drug rehabilitation, tailoring your treatment plan to your needs and symptoms. To learn how he can help you or a loved one break the cycle of opioid addiction, call Affordable & Restorative Health at 615-903-2401 or request an appointment online today.