Opioid Addiction: What is Suboxone?

What is Suboxone

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction can be accomplished using various medications. However, suboxone is one of the most popular MAT medications. Essentially, suboxone is a combination of two drugs – naloxone and buprenorphine – that manage the severity of withdrawal symptoms and reduce the patient’s dependency on opioids in the long run.  

But how does a single drug accomplish so much? How does it work? Is suboxone the only option for MAT? Does the medication have side effects? Is it addictive? In this article, we will focus on answering these questions and more. 

What is Suboxone? 

Suboxone is a prescription drug used in the treatment of opioid addiction. The medication contains naloxone and buprenorphine. On the one hand, buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist that blocks opiate receptors and reduces the patient’s cravings. On the other hand, naloxone reverses the effects of opioids. As such, suboxone works to manage withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid addiction.  

Why Is Suboxone the Preferred MAT Alternative? 

Suboxone is the preferred MAT alternative for opioid addiction for several reasons. It’s used more than methadone, which is often considered habit-forming. Unlike most opioid replacement drugs that require a prescription from qualified addiction treatment facilities, suboxone can be prescribed by your doctor.  

Most people use suboxone when commencing treatment, in continuing treatment, and during recovery. Your addiction treatment counselor or doctor will help you create a personalized treatment plan.  

Although suboxone can help manage withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting opioids, it is still important to find comprehensive addiction treatment programs. This is necessary because suboxone only treats the physical symptoms and never the underlying issue or co-occurring disorders.  

Use of Suboxone  

Doctors prescribe suboxone for dependence on prescription painkillers and short-acting opioids such as Heroin. The medication is not recommended for long-acting opioids, which is why buprenorphine is the preferred medication for this class of opioids.  

The first phase of suboxone administration is during the detox or withdrawal phase. The withdrawal symptoms are the most uncomfortable and potentially life-threatening during this stage. Once administered, suboxone helps alleviate and eliminate opioid withdrawal symptoms.  

Under your doctor’s supervision and with this medication’s help, you will progress from the withdrawal phase to the maintenance phase. Upon completion of treatment, your doctor will begin to lower your doses to the point where you will no longer need the medication.  

When taken under medical prescription and supervision, patients on suboxone will not experience cravings and withdrawals. You will feel normal throughout treatment, which is why the drug is so effective.  

How Suboxone Helps in Addiction Treatment  

Suboxone is applicable in different stages of addiction treatment and offers long-term solutions for managing opioid addiction. When used as part of a comprehensive addiction recovery plan, the drug eliminates opioid cravings.  

Since suboxone is a depressant, it helps slow you down rather than speed you up as stimulants do. Patients under suboxone medication report experiencing: 

  • Calmness  
  • Pain relief 
  • Relaxation  
  • Overall well-being 
  • Reduced stress levels 
  • Fewer worries  

How Is the Medication Administered? 

Only a qualified doctor can prescribe suboxone. You must follow your doctor’s instructions with each dose. This medication can be administered as a suboxone film or tablet. When using Suboxone film, you must place it under your tongue to deliver the appropriate dose.  

As time progresses, your doctor can alter the dose to help your body wean off the medication. To get the best result, you should use suboxone as part of a more comprehensive addiction treatment program. Suboxone alone will not treat your addiction problem. It can only complement a comprehensive recovery program involving inpatient, partial hospitalization, outpatient, counseling, and support group programs.  

Side Effects of Suboxone  

Though effective in managing opioid withdrawal symptoms, it is also worth mentioning that suboxone can lead to dependence. Individuals likely to develop a suboxone dependence include: 

  • People with a previous or current problem of narcotic misuse 
  • People unaware of the potential side effects of the medication  
  • Those addicted to Heroin but trying to avoid withdrawals 

Once you have started a suboxone treatment, you should not discontinue it without talking to your doctor. Stopping the treatment cold turkey can cause adverse side effects and potentially cause opioid withdrawal symptoms such as: 

  • Irritability  
  • Insomnia 
  • Diarrhea  
  • Muscle and joint pains 
  • Feeling jittery  
  • Dilated pupil

The side effects associated with suboxone are as listed below. If you begin experiencing any of these symptoms while under suboxone treatment, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately:  

  • Vomiting  
  • Flu-like symptoms  
  • Stomach pain  
  • Sweating  
  • Headache 
  • Low energy  

Suboxone Interactions  

Other medications, supplements, or herbal remedies can cause negative effects when under suboxone medication. Listed below are the various products that are likely to cause complications if administered together with suboxone: 

  • Fluoxetine  
  • Acetaminophen  
  • Niacin  
  • Cholesterol-lowering medications  
  • Oral contraceptives  
  • HIV-treatment drugs  
  • Verapamil 

You should note all your current medications and discuss the same with your doctor before commencing suboxone treatment.  

Start Your Suboxone MAT for Opioid Addiction Today 

Although medication-assisted therapy is an excellent choice for people struggling with addiction, it must not be the sole component of your recovery strategy. A comprehensive addiction recovery program combines an MAT strategy with drug addiction counseling and routine medical care.  

If you believe suboxone or any other type of medication-assisted therapy may be the best option for you, we can help.  At Crest View Recovery Center, our rehabilitation care staff will collaborate with you to create a personalized recovery plan focused on your requirements and objectives. Contact us today at (866) 237-2505 to start your recovery journey.  


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