Prescription drug abuse has developed into a country-wide epidemic within the last decade. Approximately 21.5 million Americans suffer from substance abuse. Whether it is a result of stress, guilt, pain, or a chemical imbalance, there is a growing use of medication without a prescription in order to battle the overwhelming. There are three common types of prescription substances abused: opioids, central nervous system depressants, and stimulants. Not only is the behavior financially costly, it can be physically harmful, socially damaging, and an expensive use of time.
COMMONLY ABUSED SUBSTANCES
Opiates are prescription medications taken for the euphoric and pain relieving effects. Some of the prevalent opiates that are most frequently abused are Oxycontin or Vicodin, with an average daily usage cost of $50-$300, resulting in $1,800-$9,000 per month.
Heroin is another drug that often results in opioid addiction. Heroin use in the past decade has doubled, with a published number of 10,000 overdosing yearly. Of those that have reported having tried heroin, 23% became addicted. Heroin is known for being “cut” with other substances that secures the anonymous potency. The lack of standardization names heroin life-threatening, in addition to an increasing the risk of HIV, hepatitis C (HCV) and other blood-borne pathogens through the use of shared needles. Heroin has an average daily cost of $70-$140 which equates to $2,100-$4,000 per month.
Benzodiazepines (a type of CNS depressant; often called “benzos”) are the most commonly abused substance. Their purpose is to treat anxiety, seizure disorders, sleeping problems and insomnia; however, extended use of these depressants can actually increase the levels of anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and depression. Prevalent depressants frequently abused include Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, Librium, and Xanax.
TREATING ADDICTION WITH BUPRENORPHINE-NALOXONE (SUBOXONE)
Triad Behavioral Resources provides a modernized medical opioid replacement treatment known as buprenorphine-naloxone, or commonly referred to as Suboxone. Buprenorphine-naloxone has shown to be a safe and effective addiction treatment of opioid dependency with little to no side effects. The elimination of opiate withdrawal symptoms, such as: headaches, sweating, flu like symptoms, cold chills, and nausea, allows patients to gain the mental and physical ability to focus on their treatment and relapse prevention. Buprenorphine-naloxone, Suboxone specifically, also contains an analgesic effect that is useful in pain management.
Suboxone is used to stabilize patients and to treat standard withdrawal symptoms of commonly abused substances: Percocet, Vicodin, Oxycontin and Heroin.
HOW SUBOXONE WORKS
Buprenorphine, an ingredient of Suboxone, acts as a partial agonist that attaches itself to the opioid receptors, the same receptors as the abused substance, in the brain to produce a similar chemical reaction. Since buprenorphine is only a partial agonist, patients will not build a tolerance to the medication allowing the ability to titrate down to a low dose or completely taper off the medication.
Naloxone, an antagonist medication, often referred to by it’s brand name Narcan, also binds to the opioid receptor as a blocker in the brain to prevent the addictive substance from activating the brain receptor. This prevents the drug from being addictive and stabilizes the patient during recovery. However, since the receptors are being blocked, there is an increased risk of overdose in the event of a relapse while naloxone is in the system.