Opiate Addiction


Opiates are one of the most commonly abused substances in the United States. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, 46 Americans die every day from prescription opioid drug abuse – that’s 17,000 annually. They exist both as a narcotic and as a legitimate pain-relief drug prescribed by doctors for moderate to severe pain, typically following major surgery. Because everyone’s body is set up differently, the dosage that works for many people may be an overdose for some people.

It is not at all uncommon for people to become addicted to their painkiller following a prescription by a physician. Due to this as well as availability, opiates can be very dangerous drugs. Common forms of opiates include heroin, OxyContin (oxycodone), and morphine. Opiates work by binding to opioid receptors which are present throughout the body on cells and internal organs. When they bind to these receptors, they trigger a cascade of effects such as pain relief and feelings of well-being, although these effects are typically offset by a myriad of side-effects including but not limited to nausea, stomach upsets, and fatigue.

If you or your loved one is suffering from opiate abuse, then there is good news! Recent advances in addiction medicine have yielded several new medications which can be used in the treatment of this condition. These treatments are typically taken several times per day either as a pill or a sublingual (dissolving) tablet. Each of these treatment options work in different ways, but the effect is the same. Patients report that these medications deal with any withdrawal symptoms, and allow them to lead normal lives again. These medications are less addictive than primary opiates, and patients report that they do not feel cravings for the medications which allows them to lead normal lives again. Please feel free to read below about the various treatments that we offer, and see which one is right for you or your loved one.

Buprenorphine (Generic)

The most basic of treatments, Buprenorphine gets the job done with no extra frills. At its most basic, Buprenorphine has a high affinity for the opioid receptors in the body which are utilized by opiates to cause their effects. This means that it will bind to the opioid receptors in place of other opiates. While Buprenorphine is present in the blood stream, it will block the effects of other opiates taken, and will also limit withdrawal symptoms making it easier to discontinue use of addictive opiate compounds. Additionally, buprenorphine has a very high half-life, which simply means that it will stay in the bloodstream for approximately three days. Thus, a single bad day of forgetting you take your medication will not mean falling off of the beam.

Buprenorphine is typically taken as a sublingual pill (under the tongue), and it is worth noting that while not nearly as dangerous as other opiates, it can still be addictive if it is abused. Side-effects of buprenorphine can include stomach pain and upset, headache, perspiration and nausea. Long-term use of this medication may carry health risks as it puts stress on the liver.

Suboxone – Buprenorphine + Naloxone

Suboxone is a name-brand substance abuse medication that can also be prescribed. Suboxone includes both buprenorphine (see above), which is an agonist for opiates and will block their effects as well as limit withdrawal symptoms. In addition, Suboxone also contains Naloxone, which is an antagonist for opiates. The purpose of the Naloxone additive is to guard against intravenous abuse of the drug.

Suboxone is typically taken as a sublingual strip, which dissolves under the tongue in orange flavor, and it is worth noting that while not nearly as dangerous as other opiates, it can still be addictive if it is abused. Side-effects of buprenorphine can include stomach pain and upset, headache, perspiration and nausea. Long-term use of this medication may carry health risks as it puts stress on the liver.

Zubsolv – Buprenorphine + Naloxone

Zubsolv is the latest word in addiction-recovery medication. Zubsolv includes both buprenorphine (see above), which is an agonist for opiates and will block their effects as well as limit withdrawal symptoms. In addition, Zubsolv also contains Naloxone, which is an antagonist for opiates. The purpose of the Naloxone additive is to guard against intravenous abuse of the drug. Zubsolv’s primary feature is that it has a higher absorption rate into the bloodstream. This simply means that a smaller dose of Zubsolv will have the same effect as a larger dose of Buprenorphine or Suboxone.

Zubsolv is typically taken as a mint-flavored sublingual pill, which dissolves under the tongue, and it is worth noting that while not nearly as dangerous as other opiates, it can still be addictive if it is abused. Side-effects of buprenorphine can include stomach pain and upset, headache, perspiration and nausea. Long-term use of this medication may carry health risks as it puts stress on the liver.