Suboxone maintenance therapy is the use of buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) over months or years to help patients maintain abstinence from opioids. For more information about Suboxone, click here to learn what Suboxone is, how it works, and what forms it comes in.
Buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) is what is called a “partial opioid agonist” because it contains two medications, one of which is an opioid agonist and the other an antagonist. The first medication is called buprenorphine, an opioid itself. This means that it turns “on” opioid receptors, preventing symptoms of withdrawal and cravings. Think of buprenorphine as similar to nicotine replacement therapy for smokers: It gives the body just enough of the opioid to prevent withdrawal symptoms and symptoms of craving for stronger, “full” opioids.
At the same time, it also contains naloxone, which “turns off” opioid receptors enough to prevent some of the worrisome side effects of full opioids such as respiratory depression, overdose, etc. For this reason, it reduces the risk of overdose and death from opioid use.
Over the last few decades since its introduction, we have gathered extensive research about the effectiveness of buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) as a solution for the long-term treatment of opioid use disorder. Studies consistently show that Suboxone, at rates similar to methadone maintenance therapy, greatly improves the likelihood that patients will remain abstinent from opioids compared to patients not on medication. In addition, studies show that buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) greatly reduces the risk of relapse when compared to patients who do not use medications. It has also consistently been shown to work just as well as methadone, without the burden of going to a methadone clinic on a daily basis to get dosed.
So how long can you be on buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) for? If need be, patients can stay on these medications life-long. I have many patients who have been on stable doses of buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) for decades and have never relapsed - they continue to work, spend time with their families, and function successfully with the help of ongoing Suboxone therapy.
Buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) is a safe long-term medication and reduces the risk of harmful effects of long-term opioid use. To learn more about the success rates and safety of Bicycle Health’s telemedicine addiction treatment in comparison to other common treatment options, call us at (844) 943-2514 or schedule an appointment here.