Suboxone Abuse Signs, Symptoms, & Side Effects
- Prescriptions in Excess – While a doctor may have initially prescribed Suboxone to your loved one, the prescription will likely not be enough to fuel their addiction. If your loved one is regularly receiving packages, they may be ordering Suboxone illicitly through the mail. They may also “doctor shop” to acquire several prescriptions at once. If you notice lots of empty drug packaging, frequent doctor visits and your loved one taking large doses of Suboxone, these are signs of likely abuse or addiction.
- Paraphernalia – Injection is also among the most common Suboxone abuse methods. Addicts are able to inject Suboxone after crushing the medication and mixing it with water or another liquid to make an injectable solution. If you notice needles, powdery residue from crushed pills and belts or ropes that may be used for constriction, it’s a sign your loved one is abusing Suboxone.
- Unexplained Weight Loss – You may notice your loved one’s wardrobe change. Their old or existing clothes may look baggy or ill-fitted, or they may be sporting new, tighter-fitting clothing. Suboxone abuse can cause a lack of appetite, which in turn can lead to weight loss. If your loved one is avoiding eating or doesn’t have many groceries in the house, this may be another sign they are using Suboxone.
- Financial Troubles – Drug addiction is a medical disease that rewires the brain into thinking it needs Suboxone to survive. Once addiction begins, the abuser feels as though they need Suboxone to survive, and will do almost anything to get the drug and have their next high or avoid withdrawal symptoms. Between constantly paying for more drugs, as well as skipping work to get high and possibly getting into trouble with the law, it’s likely an abuser will run into financial trouble. If they are constantly asking you for money, or have stolen money from your wallet, car or home, your loved one may have a Suboxone problem.
- Disinterest in Hobbies – Once addiction sets in, most abusers can only think about one thing — Suboxone. Focused on how and when they will get more of the drug, abusers often let favorite activities or hobbies fall by the wayside. If your loved one was previously passionate about attending church, dance class or spending time with grandchildren and has suddenly lost interest, they may be addicted to Suboxone.
Impaired or slurred speech
Increased blood pressure
- Poor coordination
- Poor memory
- Apathetic mood
- Impaired cognition
- Erratic behavior
Erratic behavior can also lead to challenges interpersonally. Many Suboxone abusers lose interest in existing relationships because all they can think about is Suboxone. In order to obtain more of the drug, they may lie to loved ones, ask for or steal money from friends or family, and “doctor shop” to find multiple doctors who will give them a prescription.
Additionally, emotional flatness can make it difficult to maintain relationships. One 2013 study found that people who used Suboxone for a long period of time had significantly less emotional self-awareness of feeling happy, sad and anxious. Rather, the users often displayed an apathetic mood (defined as an aloof or disinterested demeanor).
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Like other medications, Suboxone comes with its own set of side effects. This drug has a powerful impact on the brain, causing side effects to manifest both physically and mentally. For some, the side effects are why they begin using Suboxone. Those who use Suboxone often find pleasure in these side effects:
- A sense of well-being
- Euphoria or Calmness
- Confidence or no stress
- Pain relief
But the negative side effects in both the short-term and the long-term far outweigh the positive ones. Undesirable short-term Suboxone effects include:
- Low blood pressure
- Blurry vision
- Slowed breathing or Respiratory or lung problems
Undesirable long-term Suboxone effects include:
- Hair loss / Loss of libido
- Poor stress management / Addiction
- Loss of control over emotions
- Legal trouble
- Financial problems or bankruptcy
- Home foreclosure
- Loss of child custody / Divorce
- Loss of relationships with family or friends
- Homelessness / Loss of job
- Failing out of or expulsion from school
There may be additional side effects of Suboxone use if the abuser was first addicted to another substance before using Suboxone. For example, if an abuser was addicted to heroin before using Suboxone and developing a second addiction, they may be more likely to develop addiction to another drug, less likely to want to try another cessation drug like methadone, and less likely to want to attend rehab due to past bad experiences. Suboxone also presents certain side effects based on the abuser’s gender. For example, a 2012 study showed that about 83 percent of men who used buprenorphine (an active ingredient in Suboxone) experienced low sexual satisfaction and some form of sexual dysfunction, including premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction and low sex drive.
On the female side, clinicians previously believed methadone treatment to be the only option for opioid-addicted pregnant women. However, new evidence shows that it is medically acceptable to use Suboxone during pregnancy. The FDA considers Suboxone a Class C drug, which means that Suboxone may pose risks to the mother or fetus, but a doctor may deem it medically necessary. Essentially, using Suboxone is better for mother and baby than if she were to continue using heroin or another opioid drug of abuse. The good news is, many of these side effects can be reversed if the person stops abusing Suboxone and begins a life of sobriety.