Suboxone and methadone addiction is spreading among teens. These drugs are used to help teenagers overcome addictions to opiates like heroin and prescription painkillers like OxyContin, but their use has become controversial.

Teens are now obtaining them illegally on the streets, as substitutes for the addictions for which they’re being treated. As with the excessive use of most drugs, it is possible to overdose and even die from methadone and Suboxone misuse.

What are methadone and Suboxone?

Methadone is a prescription drug used to treat addiction to opiates like heroin and morphine in a clinical setting to manage severe withdrawal symptoms. Originally prescribed to patients 18 and above, it’s now used for those under 18 who meet certain criteria.

Suboxone is also a prescribed medication that takes the place of an opiate. It’s used in patients ages 16 and older. Suboxone eliminates withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Are methadone and Suboxone effective treatment methods?

Methadone must be administered at a clinic under supervision, which can be time consuming. Methadone is a longer-acting drug, eliminating the severe highs and lows associated with heroin and some other opiates. It can also be used for a long time period. When using methadone, behavioral therapy is recommended.

Experts argue that Suboxone is a safe and effective way to treat addiction in people under 18, because teens are particularly at risk for very serious dangers accompanying opiate abuse, including overdosing, HIV, and suicide. Unlike methadone, Suboxone is available at pharmacies, so it’s a less time-consuming treatment, costs less than residential treatment, and allows parents to be involved in their teens’ treatments. Suboxone appears to be more effective when used on a long-term basis in combination with behavioral therapies.

If your teen hasn’t tried other non-opioid forms, has only been using opiates for a short time, has a mental illness that complicates treatment, isn’t willing to take the drug, or has certain health issues or allergies, Suboxone and methadone may not be good treatment choices.

How are teens abusing methadone and Suboxone?

From taking them without a prescription to mixing them with other drugs and/or alcohol, teens use methadone and Suboxone illegally to help them deal with the withdrawal symptoms of opiates or to get high.

Suboxone can be snorted or injected to achieve a high. Methadone addicts may increase their dosage as the high disappears. Once they become immune to the high, they’re left feeling nothing but numb every time they use.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, in 2012 nearly 2.5 million people over 12 said they’ve abused methadone in their lifetime.

Overdosing and death have occurred when these drugs are misused or mixed with other drugs or alcohol. According to a New York Times article, recent increases have contributed to everything from seizures from buprenorphine (a component of Suboxone) to emergency room visits.

How do teens get methadone and Suboxone?

These drugs are available on the streets, occasionally sold by patients with prescriptions. Patients often stockpile the drugs, then take them in large doses. Some illegally sell their prescriptions for recreational use. They may also get multiple prescriptions from different doctors.

What are the symptoms of methadone and Suboxone abuse?

Physical symptoms of methadone abuse include nausea, vomiting, slowed breathing, constricted pupils, and sweating.

Symptoms of Suboxone misuse include those of methadone abuse in addition to slurred speech, high blood pressure, muscle pain and cramps, fever, diarrhea, and insomnia. Other symptoms such as depression, difficulty remembering things, and apathetic behavior can also occur.

Author's Bio: 

Pyramid Healthcare offers detox, inpatient and outpatient services for teens recovering from drug abuse at locations throughout Pennsylvania. Contact us today to see how we can help.