If you’re struggling with opioid dependency, you’re not alone. Researchers report that over 3 million Americans suffer from opioid use disorder (OUD), and at least half a million are addicted to heroin. 

Because of how they act on your brain, opioids are highly addictive — even when used for only short periods. The rush of endorphins, or “feel good” neurotransmitters, causes a strong feeling of calm, well-being, and/or euphoria. 

Because the effects of opioids don’t last, people take more of the drug to bring it back. Over time, your brain rewires itself, requiring more and more of the drug to produce the opioid high, causing OUD. 

If you think you may have an opioid addiction, it’s essential to get evaluated by an opioid dependence specialist, board-certified psychiatric nurse practitioner Nola Ayoola-Yussuf, PMHNP-BC, at Potomac Shores Mental Health and Wellness

At her practice in Woodbridge, Virginia, and through telehealth appointments for patients in Maryland, Colorado, New Hampshire, and Washington, DC, Nola offers specialized counseling and Suboxone® therapy to help you overcome your addiction.

Unfortunately, many myths surround this prescription therapy that can ease withdrawal and help you adjust to life without opioids. We’ve created this brief guide to help you separate fact from fiction.    

MYTH #1: Suboxone means replacing one addiction for another

FACT: Taking medication to promote your mental and physical well-being is NOT an addiction. The medicines in Suboxone limit the euphoria that comes with opioid use and prevent opioids from binding those receptors in your brain.    

Suboxone has two main ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone. Here’s a closer look at how they work and why they’re a substitute addiction. 

Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine, an opioid agonist, partially blocks the opiate receptors in your brain to prevent extreme withdrawal symptoms while stopping you from getting high. Withdrawal symptoms vary, both in duration and severity and may include:

  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Fatigue and/or sleep trouble
  • Excessive yawning
  • Runny nose and watery eyes
  • Hot and cold sweats
  • Aching, painful muscles
  • Gastrointestinal upset (e.g., nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea)
  • Changes in appetite

Suboxone helps ease these symptoms. 

Naloxone

Naloxone, an opioid antagonist, stops opioids from binding to receptors in your brain. This means if you take any opioid drugs while taking Suboxone, you won’t feel the effects of the drug. 

This powerful combination gives your body enough of what it needs to ease withdrawal symptoms while helping keep your cravings in check so you can reduce — and ultimately eliminate — your dependence.  

MYTH #2: It’s easy to overdose on Suboxone

FACT: The truth is that it’s extremely difficult to overdose on Suboxone alone. Because Suboxone doesn’t fully bind to opioid receptors the way opioid drugs like oxycodone, morphine, or heroin do, it limits your ability to get high. 

When people overdose while taking Suboxone, it’s almost always because they took it at the same time as sedatives, like benzodiazepine, which causes your breathing to slow. 

If you require medication to help with anxiety, board-certified psychiatric nurse practitioner Nola at Potomac Shores Mental Health and Wellness prescribes other options to avoid this kind of drug interaction. 

MYTH #3: You can only take Suboxone for a short time 

FACT: When taken under the care of a trained addiction specialist, like board-certified psychiatric nurse practitioner Nola at Potomac Shores Mental Health and Wellness, you can take Suboxone for as long as needed to continue your sobriety.

Some research shows that when people only take Suboxone for a short period (e.g., six months to one year), they’re more likely to relapse and start using opioids again. Your improved quality of life measures success for OUD, not being free of helpful medications.  

MYTH #4: Suboxone is all you need to overcome OUD

FACT: Suboxone is indeed a powerful tool when it comes to treating addiction. But this therapy works best when paired with other treatments, like psychotherapy. Studies show that the more support you have, the better your chances of staying sober. 

At Potomac Shores Mental Health and Wellness, Nola works with you to craft a personalized OUD treatment plan with specific recommendations for your mental and physical health, which may include:

  • Suboxone treatment
  • Individual therapy sessions with Nola
  • Referrals to group therapy or support groups 
  • Lifestyle recommendations to support your recovery

Schedule an appointment online or over the phone with board-certified psychiatric nurse practitioner Nola Ayoola-Yussuf, PMHNP-PC, at Potomac Shores Mental Health and Wellness for more reliable information about Suboxone for opioid dependency.

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