Suboxone Treatment and Pain Medications
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Suboxone is a safe and popular treatment for opiate addiction. Unfortunately, there are problems that may arise from taking Suboxone, particularly if you take it for a long time. One of these problems is that it is difficult to treat pain while you are on it. This means that if you are in an accident, have breakthrough pain, or need surgery, being on Suboxone makes the treatment of pain difficult and sometimes hazardous.
Why is it Hard to Treat Pain While on Suboxone?
It is difficult to treat pain while on Suboxone because Suboxone blocks opiate receptors and can throw you into withdrawal because it contains Naloxone, an opiate antagonist. This creates an unfortunate situation where the majority of opiate painkillers commonly used to treat pain due to injuries and other situations will not work at normal dosages.
How do they Treat Pain while you are on Suboxone?
They treat pain while you are on Suboxone by first trying other medications such as acetaminophen, anti-inflammatory medications, and other pain relievers. Since severe pain cannot be treated this way some doctors and emergency room personnel may resort to another method.
This method involves giving the patient very high doses of traditional opiates. This causes the opiate to override the Suboxone in your system.
What are the Risks Associated with Pain Medications and Suboxone?
Unfortunately, large amounts of opiates can cause overdose, a very dangerous condition where a person can die. If a doctor chooses to treat pain in a Suboxone patient with large amounts of opiates they closely monitor the patient. They carefully watch the patient for classic signs of overdose such as:
- Decreases in respiration and heart rate
- Erratic heart rate or respiration
- Blue or black fingers or lips
- Lack of responsiveness
- Pale or ashen skin
- Inability to speak
A patient given a high dose of opiates is closely monitored for any of these symptoms. The same symptoms can occur if you take large amounts of illegal opiates or heroin while you are taking Suboxone. The only way to feel the effects of opiates while you are on the drug is to take large amounts. This is not recommended because you risk death when you do.
How can You Reduce Your Risk while on Suboxone?
Although you cannot predict the future, it is possible to minimize the risks associated with taking Suboxone and having to treat pain. Some things that you can do involve:
- Informing doctors and emergency personnel that you are on Suboxone.
- Keeping a medical alert bracelet with you that identifies you as a Suboxone patient.
- Tapering off Suboxone before a surgical procedure.
- Avoiding situations where you might relapse into taking opiates illegally while on Suboxone.
- Decreasing risk taking that can cause injury before tapering off Suboxone.
Not all accidents are foreseeable or preventable but these are the things that you can do to reduce your risk of needing pain medication while taking Suboxone. For more information on tapering off Suboxone or using Suboxone to stop an opiate addiction, call us at 800-533-1341 (Who Answers?) .